TRENTON, N.J. (AP/CBSNewYork) — Almost half of all school buses and vans in New Jersey fail to pass their semiannual inspections due to violations deemed serious enough to take them off the road, according to a published report.
The Press of Atlantic City also found that another third of the vehicles get 30-day violations for items that would not put children at risk.
But state motor vehicle and school transportation officials say parents should not be overly concerned by the newspaper’s findings, which were based on its review of more than 1.2 million computerized inspection records.
They say the buses, vans and other vehicles that take more than 800,000 Garden State children to school each day are overall very safe specifically because state inspections are so thorough.
The newspaper’s analysis determined that the percentage of buses found in violation has not dropped in the last 10 years despite tougher statewide inspections. Problems on failed buses range from malfunctioning warning equipment to fluid leaks to poor brakes, which is the most common out-of-service violation.
Eighty inspectors in 20 teams fan out across the state, performing about 75,000 inspections and re-inspections a year at
1,400 terminals, MVC spokesman Michael Horan told the newspaper. Bus operators also are expected to self-inspect their buses every 3,000 miles and must keep documentation that is reviewed as part of the MVC inspection.
Horan said the teams also conduct surprise inspections based on their own concerns or public complaints.
Companies are charged $25 per inspection, plus another $25 for a reinspection if the violation requires a separate trip. If the bus is fixed and reinspected the same day, there is no additional charge.
The inspection program costs about $7 million a year, about $1.3 million of which is generated by the fees. Horan said despite the state budget crunch, there are no plans to make any cuts to the program.
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