ARCHBALD -- This crippling cold is a logistical nightmare for folks responsible for getting our kids to school. The string of cold temperatures is tough on school buses and the people who operate them.
Some school superintendents in our area say they've delayed school on some of these cold days for a combination of reasons; not only for student safety but also to make sure the buses are ready to pick them up.
The owner of a private bus company says drivers could be outside starting up their buses in less than 12 hours in order to be ready for tomorrow's run.
The Propst brothers always start their mornings early but this week it’s been earlier, in the dark, and in frigid temperatures. They have a strict schedule to stick to, serving five school districts in Lackawanna County. But, in this cold, they have to head out to their bus yards in Archbald and Throop at least an hour early.
“You can plug them in and that keeps the engine warm. It has nothing to do with the batteries but it keeps the engine warm. And then you get up early in the morning and go down and pray,” said Brian Propst.
Their prayers were answered this time all the buses started without problems but that hasn't been the case and it's not an exact science.
“We put anti-gel in the fuel, so we try to not let them gel up. But in these extreme temperatures, sometimes the fuel will gel anyway.”
The folks at Propst say five degrees is their threshold. Anything colder than that and plugging the buses in to heat them up won't help. So, a whole week of those temperatures makes for a lot of extra work.
“Time is very much of the essence and two-hour delays help us very much. We can't plug every bus in so some buses need to be jumped. Buses don't like to start in the cold weather,” said Kenneth Propst Jr.
Two-hour delays during waves of cold weather help them out a lot. Scattered delays among districts have allowed Propst to get working buses going and warming up the ones that aren't.
“We have to go by their schedule. If they so happen to call for a two-hour delay, then great. But today they didn't and we were lucky all the buses started.”