Drivers blast safety concerns with First Student buses following accident

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by Lauren Trager / News 4 | @LaurenTrager

KMOV.com

Posted on January 30, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 4 at 6:50 AM

(KMOV) – A local school bus driver is blasting a bus company that transports thousands of students around the St. Louis area.

A News 4 investigation began with a terrifying accident Wednesday after a semi-truck side-swiped a school bus on Interstate 70 and then took off. All the kids were OK.

But after noticing some serious red-flags about the bus itself, News 4’s Lauren Trager dug deeper.

“Do you think kids are safe on these buses?” asked Trager “No, not at all,” said driver Myron Herron.

Herron’s bus is banged up because of the accident Wednesday, but he told News 4 it was already in awful shape before the wreck.

“When the truck swayed over into my lane, I couldn’t even blow the horn. It was broken and it was written up. I couldn’t call 9-1-1 because the microphone on the radio was broken,” Herron said.

A News 4 crew went to find the bus for at the First Student bus yard and there it was, rusted and jagged.

But then Nebraska license plates and expired tags were spotted plain as day, which raised huge questions about whether the bus had ever been properly inspected in Missouri before loading it up with kids five days a week.

News 4’s Trager got the door slammed in her face at the bus yard when she attempted to ask questions.

A spokesperson for first student has repeatedly refused to let News 4 see any inspection records for this or any bus: only insisting, without providing proof, that they’re safe.

Minutes later, at the bus yard, Trager noticed the Nebraska plate had been replaced by a shiny, new Missouri plate. A spokesperson explained that the bus had been registered in Missouri, which was confirmed through the Department of Revenue, but that they had neglected to put the plates on until News 4 arrived.

A spokesperson for First Student released this statement saying;

"Safety is a core value of First Student. The safety of the students we transport each day is a responsibility that we take very seriously.

The vehicle in this incident had previously operated and been registered in Nebraska. The Nebraska registration was due to expire in December. In order to operate this vehicle in Missouri, the vehicle underwent the process of registration in Missouri. Registration was obtained in accordance with the requirements of the State of Missouri and new plates were issued. The vehicle is registered and licensed to operate in Missouri. The Missouri license plates, however, had not been placed on the vehicle.

First Student is conducting a thorough review of this incident and will take corrective action to ensure that, going forward; license plates are immediately placed on all newly registered vehicles."

Herron told News 4, though; plate problems are common and are just a tiny example of the issues on First Student buses.

“They have us driving around with faulty parts on these buses and safety comes first according to first student, we haven’t seen it in a long time,” he said.  He’s tired of fighting from within.

“I think they are horrible practices,” he said.

He’s now scared for his own kid who rides these buses and he thinks all parents should be.

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