What problems are showing up in your child’s school bus

State law requires every school bus be inspected at least once a year.

During these inspections, state patrol inspectors check essentials: emergency exits, brakes, steering and general safety.

News 3 Now dug through two years of inspection records to see if problems identified in these annual checkups are being fixed.

The Results

Only about 1 1/2 out of every 10 buses had to be pulled from service.

Most buses we checked had no or only minor problems, some of which were fixed during the inspection.

Others passed despite not meeting federal standards or showing issues with the brake system. One was approved with a broken hinge on the emergency exit.

The report states issues need to be fixed within five days, but some buses had the same problem listed multiple years in a row, like a broken fan or unlabeled first-aid kit.

Badger Bus Lines, the company contracted for Madison schools, said these reoccurring issues are a coincidence, saying it fixes issues promptly and does preventative maintenance.

In Madison Metropolitan School District, there are 135 buses in the fleet, and they are running constantly. That everyday wear can lead to repeated issues, the company said.

Robert Miller, a spokesman for the Wisconsin State Patrol, said school buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road, in part because they are inspected every year.

“Like any motor vehicle, school bus components can wear and break over time,” Miller said. “In general, school bus carriers have excellent maintenance programs.”

He said school buses are pulled if they pose an “imminent hazard condition.”

Any issues found in these inspections need to be fixed within five days, or else the State Patrol can issue a $200 citation, but it’s on the bus company to make sure it’s done. Otherwise, these violations are found on spot checks or if someone calls it in.

Since 2018, the State Patrol has issued 134 citations across the state.

Madison Metropolitan School District did not respond to a request for comment on this story..

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