Byram Hills Bus Appreciation Day Thanks the Drivers of Our Schools
April 30, 2015
On Thursday, the PTSA sponsored the Byram Hills Bus Appreciation Day at the school bus depot. Many refreshments, food and good cheer were supplied to the hard-working and often long-time veteran drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, and colleagues.
Most North Castle townspeople might not grasp how big and complicated the Byram Hills Bus Transportation Depot is on a typical day.
During the school year, Phil Petersen, Byram Hills Transportation Dispatcher, says the department performs roughly 1 million children pick-ups and drop-offs. Approximately 846,000 miles or about 3,000 miles per day are driven for school transportation, as well as for field trips, clubs, and sports.
There are 55 bus drivers, including 28 who are full-time. Many are flex-time drivers who might only work the morning or afternoon shift. The bus fleet is roughly 80 buses; of those, 46-47 are usually in use during a regular day. There are 16-17 daily buses that service the four Byram Hills district public schools, and then another 30 buses that handle the transportation to 35-40 private schools on a daily basis. Town children who attend out-of-district schools, within a 15-mile radius, are transported paid for by school taxes paid by all residents. By law, the out-of-district transportation is also the responsibility of Byram Hills, as is the transportation for special needs placement students who may travel up to 50 miles away.
The average school day involves 208 bus trips. All of this intricate--mechanical and human -- synchronized scheduling may be very hard to achieve consistently. Nevertheless, for the six-month rating periods from the New York State Department of Transportation have consistently awarded the Byram Hills Transportation Department a lofty 95% rating on its fleet operations.
Kristen Krebs-Dick is an Armonk mother of two schoolchildren who ride the Coman Hill and Wampus buses. She says, “The drivers are the first exposure that my girls have to school every day and they are always friendly.
“I also get to see how the drivers are able to manage all those kids when needed, and frankly get the job done safely especially in the insane weather that we've encountered this past season. They care about my kids and I appreciate that.”
The camaraderie and apparent refreshing workplace enthusiasm was affirmed by Vinnie Bellantoni, a 24-year veteran and former dispatcher. He declared, “I love it here.” He tried to retire 10 years ago, but that lasted only three days before he returned.
Cheryl Fitzgibbons, Supervisor of Pupil Transportation, simply described the impressiveness of the entire daunting operation that still works so well. She says the community here is nothing like she has ever seen before; they are so supportive.
Photo captions: All the mapped colored roads indicate where bus service routes are provided by the Byram Hills Transportation Department.
Vince Bellantoni, a 24-year retired Byram Hills Bus Dispatcher; Joanne Peterson, 11-year Byram Hills bus driver; and Karen Salemino, a 17-year Byram Hills bus driver