They’re big and they’re yellow and they’re slow.
And since school districts can’t function without school buses and transportation to get those students to and from campus, making sure the big yellow beasts are running safely and effectively remains a top priority.
That’s where Michael Cardoza and the rest of the transportation maintenance crew comes in.
For the last 10 years Cardoza – a Sierra High School graduate – has worked as a diesel mechanic and technician for Manteca Unified, spending his days making sure that buses and district vehicles are in tip-top shape for the road.
It’s not quite as simple as checking the air in the tires and making sure to change the oil.
“There’s a lot of upkeep on buses because we’re not hauling tomatoes – we’re hauling someone else’s kids,” Cardoza said. “The standards for that maintenance are pretty high.
“The CHP (California Highway Patrol) is pretty tough and they make sure that we only use the best parts for the job. We never reuse anything – everything has to be new.”
In order to fix a bus, Cardoza has to sometimes drive one.
He’s seen firsthand how people ignore the fact that a bus full of somebody else’s children is nearby – praising drivers for their dedication and their vision in keeping students safe.
“People don’t know that buses are the safest thing on the road because we have to inspect them every 45 days no matter what,” Cardoza said. “And they’re not that cautious around buses – that’s why the drivers are always alert and aware of their surroundings.”