Reporting David Goldstein
LOS ANGELES (CBS2) — While your children ride LAUSD buses, we obtained the most recent reports, finding fuel leaks, steering violations that could endanger students, and bad brakes.
A violation was issued in March last year for bus 3929, the same bus John Bess’ daughter rides every day. And he had no way of knowing.
“The only thing is, I can’t do a brake check. You know what I mean? I can’t go under the bus for the two or three seconds that I get my daughter off the bus,” Bess told CBS2.
The reports come from the California Highway Patrol, which inspects school buses every 13 months in terminals.
Even though the district is aware ahead of time, and can get every vehicle ready for inspectors, we found 51 buses that were ordered out of service, taken off the streets because of mechanical problems.
That’s about an average of four every month, or 1 in 25 of the district’s 1,300 bus fleet.
“And what does it mean when you pull a bus out of service?” Goldstein asked a CHP officer.
“If we pull it out of service, it means there is some issue with the bus that does not make it safe at that moment for the children to be on board,” he said.
We found issues such as worn tire tread and cracked brackets. One bus had a fuel leak at the fuel tank, while another had fuel leaking from the filer.
Bus safety expert Robert Berkstresser says that could be a big problem.
“It depends on the type of fuel being used: diesel versus gas. If it’s gas, it’s more flammable,” Berkstresser said.
Inspectors also found several buses with steering issues, while others had bad brakes.
“Those are two critical items that are for sure going to put your bus out of service: the steering components and brakes,” Berkstresser said.
Keep in mind, prior to these inspections, children were on board every bus.
“The question remains, ‘Well, how many days did it run in this fashion before the CHP carrier found it?’” Berkstresser said.
The buses were repaired immediately and put back on the streets. We found bus number 6308, one that was taken out of service because of a fuel leak last September, shuttling students to Reseda High School.
And bus number 3940, another with a fuel leak found in March of last year, picking up students at Plummer Elementary School in the north valley.
The LAUSD says the buses are safe — not only inspected by the CHP, but also their own mechanics every 45 days. The district issued the following statement:
“Parents can be assured that the safety of students, including the safe school bus transportation of students, is a priority at LAUSD and every precaution is taken to ensure that school buses are safely inspected and maintained.”