Wall Township school buses experienced a 25 percent initial fail rate and a 68 percent initial pass rate at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission's inspection in September.
The inspection results were announced to the public at the Wall Township Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Wall Intermediate School.
"The 25 percent fail, however, was for minor problems... that were repaired and passed on the spot with the exception of one bus that had a rib frame problem that was given 30 days to repair," said Melissa Peters, board finance and facilities chair. "It was repaired in the time frame and passed."
The minor problems that afflicted most of the vehicles that failed were primarily rips in the fabric covering bus seats.
"No buses were ever taken off the road," said Superintendent Daniel Smith. When asked by board member Joseph Tonzola if the 25 percent fail rate is considered to be a high number, Smith responded that compared to other Monmouth County school districts, Wall "actually faired pretty well."
Twice a year, the MVC performs an inspection of all New Jersey-registered school vehicles. Vehicle inspectors follow a stringent 180-point checklist to make sure that only the safest vehicles are being used to transport students.
According to the MVC, the biannual inspections result in about 47.17 percent of school vehicles being temporarily placed out-of service, with approximately 12 percent being issued 30-day rejection stickers (None of Wall's 58 inspected buses received these stickers). Initial inspection failure results from serious problems like brake and steering system issues, but also from minor ones like tears in seats (as was the case with Wall). In most cases, the problems are addressed and re-inspected in the same time period.
After re-inspection, approximately 95 percent of school vehicles are deemed safe for the road and transport of students.
“As with the inspection of any school vehicle that transports children, MVC inspectors are meticulous in their efforts to detect major and minor defects,” said Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez in a news release. “It is this dedication to school bus safety that demonstrates to the citizens of New Jersey that we are providing a true benefit.”
The full report of the Wall school vehicle inspection can be viewed here.
"Again, if you have a tear in a seat, it fails," Smith said, emphasizing that the MVC looks very closely for even the most minor of problems. "It's a pretty thorough inspection."