Hundreds of TUSD students forced to endure hot bus rides

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Hundreds of TUSD students are once again forced to endure hot bus rides. At the start of this year, 41 school buses are on the roads with no air conditioning units. Two school board members say they had no idea that many buses had no AC and they hope new leadership will change that.

A few years ago, KGUN9 checked how hot these buses can get. Temperatures reached 100 degrees. Kids got off the bus hot, sweaty, some even nauseated and that was a short ride. You would think that working air conditioning units would be required to pass safety inspections. TUSD announced last week that its entire fleet passed the test.

But we've learned in Arizona A-C is not required on a school bus so those without can pass the inspections. And districts don't have to report whether buses have no A-C to the school boards or public. Board members Michael Hicks and Mark Stegeman say they shouldn't be kept in the dark on issues that could be potential safety hazards.

Stegeman said, "I think TUSD need to be more attentive -- generally about safety issues. I think in some ways we've improved, but we have some ways to go and so I think we need to try to avoid situations where students could be at any kind of risk. I do think the board should hear about it when that happens."

We asked the district for the bus routes, but the district reponded, "the routes change too often to accurately identify them, but we try to use the non-air conditioned busses on the shortest routes."

KGUN9 will continue to look into this hot-button issue and bring you any new developments.

Information from the Department of Public Safety regarding bus safety inspections.

Air conditioning is not required on a school bus. If it is so equipped, AAC R13-13-108 deems it a Major Defect (bus is to be placed Out of Service) if any of the following are found:

•Missing hose covers or trim panels
•Missing air conditioning louvres
•Loose or missing air conditioning mounting fasteners
•Refrigerant leaks from evaporators or hoses in the interior of the bus
•Broken compressor brackets
•Broken mounting bolts
•Electrical wiring hanging out of evaporator covers
•Missing evaporator covers
•Missing air diffusers
•Evaporators not secured to ceiling or bulkhead

It is a Minor Defect (bus must be repaired within 15 days) if any of these issues are found:

•Broken or loose evaporator covers
•Unsecured refrigerant hoses
•Loose, missing or severely cracked belts


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