5 school buses ordered off road by MVA over `major' defects

At least 4 are repaired, returned to service in city

January 26, 2004|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

Five buses used to transport Baltimore schoolchildren were cited last week by the state Motor Vehicle Administration for major defects and ordered out of service, but at least four have been repaired and are back on the road.

Jeff Tosi, a MVA spokesman, said Friday that the defects had been found during a routine inspection earlier in the week. The defects, categorized by the agency as "major," included a broken window, a non-working stop sign, and blinkers, brake lights and turn signals that were not operating properly.

When the defects were found, the license plates were removed from the vehicles, which is routine when major defects are found and not immediately repaired, MVA officials said.

The plates were returned to the four repaired vehicles after a reinspection, but the fifth vehicle needed further repairs, Tosi said.

Tosi said the school district owns the buses, but school officials disputed that.

Edie House, a city schools spokeswoman , said the district owns one of the buses and that the others are owned by private bus companies on contract to the city.

House also said all five buses had been repaired and put back into service. She said the five buses make up a tiny percentage of the nearly 400 buses used to transport city students.

The district's school transportation division is being investigated by the state prosecutor's office over contracts awarded to a private bus contractor that had been cited for safety problems.

District officials say they have been cooperating in the investigation.

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