Inspection Shows Defective Columbia School Buses

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COLUMBIA - District specific school bus inspection results obtained by KOMU 8 News reveal 35 Columbia school buses were defective during the 2013-2014 school year which ended Thursday.

A Missouri State Highway Patrol inspection found 16.5% of the 212 school buses serving Columbia Public Schools were defective. Eight buses were taken out of service due to more serious issues.

A total of 11,997 Missouri school buses were inspected earlier this year. David Wilson is the transportation coordinator for Columbia Public Schools and said buses can be deemed defective for something as simple as a broken mirror to more serious issues like brake or exhaust troubles. 

"This year we had 212 buses inspected and ad you might expect, at any given time, one could without a doubt find some defects on the buses," Wilson said. 

Columbia Public Schools contracts First Student to serve its students and the company is responsible for maintaining the buses. This year's approval rating is lower than the district typically sees. 

"In the past we've been looking at 85, 87 percent [approval]. This year we were down to 79.7 percent first time approval so not as good as we've seen in the past. Not what we really want to see. I have communicated to the First Student staff that the results aren't what we expect and we have an opportunity here, they have an opportunity that we need to see significant improvements next year," Wilson said. 

The Highway Patrol inspects school buses every year and buses without defects are approved. Any buses found with one or more defects but are deemed safe for use are "rejected". 405 buses in the state of Missouri were placed out-of-service for having one or more defective items with the potential of compromising student safety.

"First Student has ten days to make repairs to those defects," Wilson said. "On those that are taken out of service, those buses cannot be in service until the defects are remedied."

Six of Jefferson City Public Schools' 67 buses were found defective. That means nearly 10 percent of the buses serving Jefferson City students had something wrong with them.

Click here for a full district specific report of bus inspection results.