Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bus Fuel Problem Gives Students a Day Off

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bus Fuel Problem Gives Students a Day Off

Article excerpt

The recent record-breaking temperatures gave thousands of local school students an unexpected break from classes. Those in the Pine- Richland School District went back a day after many other suburban school districts.

While many school districts in the region summoned their students to their desks on Jan. 8, Pine-Richland posted on its website another canceled day, explaining: "Extreme temperatures are causing the fuel to gel in the buses, which is making it difficult for the buses to operate."

Brian Miller, transportation coordinator for the district, said the decision was made in consultation with the district's bus provider, Monark Student Transportation Corp.

"We had a lot of communication the night before and early that morning. We ended up going with the recommendation of the contractor [Monark,]" Mr. Miller explained.

The issue involved the extreme cold temperatures and the concern that the fuel used by the buses "could end up posing some issues during the day due to gelling," he said.

During Mr. Miller's three-year tenure with the district, the issue has never arisen before, but he said temperatures hadn't been quite so extreme before. Monark has been servicing the district for six years. It's contract expires at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

Mr. Miller said he "isn't fully certain" why the gelling issue posed problems for Pine-Richland when other districts were able to get their buses moving on Wednesday. He said the situation will be fully discussed in future meetings with Monark representatives.

Mark D. Schmitt, owner of Monark, said he personally made the recommendation to Pine-Richland officials that school be canceled Jan. 8.

Mr. Schmitt said Monark provides bus service to a half-dozen private schools and districts in the region.

"It was a situation where I wanted to be safe rather than risk having some buses break down on the side of the road, loaded with schoolchildren," he said. …

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