Safety concerns raised after 65 CMS school buses wait for inspection 7 months after recall

Sixty-five CMS school buses are waiting to be inspected seven months after a recall was first issued over potential problems with the bus' brakes, requiring an inspection but not necessarily a part replacement, a FOX 46 investigation uncovered.

The recall is focused on brake parts, called caliper bolts, that could come loose, "potentially resulting in reduced brake effectiveness, which could lead to a crash." 

FOX 46 uncovered the recall, issued last August, after a CMS bus sideswiped a car and crashed into a building a week ago. Students were on board at the time, and two people were taken to the hospital, but nobody was seriously injured. Police say speed was not a factor.

The district says the buses are waiting to be inspected by the manufacturer. However, an expert in the school bus repair field says the caliper bolts could have been inspected, and tightened, by CMS mechanics in "two days max" before the start of school on Aug. 27. The expert, who asked to remain anonymous, says this raises safety concerns and questions about why an inspection wasn't done when the recall was issued seven months ago and why the buses weren't grounded until a recall inspection was completed. 

"Any time you have a safety recall, especially something with the brakes, that ought to be handled immediately," the expert tells FOX 46. "They are talking about a caliper bolt coming loose. You don't sit on that....You'd think being a brake issue, a safety issue, that would have been expedited. They should have done it in a hurry or ground the buses until they got it done."

"There are 65 CMS school buses in the fleet under this recall," said CMS spokesperson Yaviri Escalera in an email, after FOX 46 alerted the district to the recall a week ago. 

"This is a statewide recall campaign that the manufacturer is working to inspect," she continued. "They are doing everything possible to expedite the inspection of these 65 buses at CMS."

District officials say the manufacturer is "working with all districts across the state to address the issue." 

"It's simply an inspection that is required to ensure the brake issue does not exist," said Escalera.

District officials insist its buses are "properly maintained" daily. Further questions were referred to the manufacturer, Thomas Built Buses and Daimler Trucks North America.

"The safety of CMS students who ride school buses is a top priority for the district," said CMS spokesperson Renee McCoy. "The CMS Transportation department works diligently to ensure all school buses are properly maintained and operated safely, daily." 

The inspection is "being addressed by the manufacturer," the district said. A timeframe for when that might occur, or how long it will take, is unclear.