Loose Wheels Found on Florida School Buses
In an investigative report completed by ABC Action News, several problems were found on brand new school buses that are being used in Lee County, and buses in use in Hillsborough County.
The investigative team found that 9 new 2018 Bluebird buses that were in Lee County all had loose lug nuts. According to state records, the state’s Department of Education was aware of a problem with loose Bluebird bus wheels, but the Director of Transportation in Lee County didn’t get notified by the state until three months after Hillsborough County brought it to the state’s attention.
The original problems with loose school bus wheels were found back in August of last year in Hillsborough County. There were two instances where wheels actually flew off buses while they were in motion. But, it was also discovered that at least 20 other buses in Hillsborough had loose wheels.
The common factor with all these buses is that they were new 2018 Bluebird Buses. Luckily, in the cases where the tires did fly off, no kids were on the buses. Hillsborough did tell the state’s Department of Education about these problems but other counties didn’t know about this dangerous issue until months later. In Pinellas’ case, two months after.
So who didn’t get out the information in a timely manner? According to records, the Department of Education’s Senior Program Director, Thomas Snowden who resigned in lieu of getting fired for, “failure to ensure accurate work products, properly supervise staff and to use readily available information to solve problems”.
Hillsborough’s School Transporation Director Jim Beekman has taken steps to correct this serious issue by buying lug not locks for all the buses. They cost about $100 per bus. Beekman hopes that all new buses statewide will have to get them.
Does this development concern you as a parent? With roads becoming more and more congested in Tampa Bay, we would hope children on school buses have the highest safety monitoring possible.