Keeping school buses running in the cold

Big concern is the possibility of diesel fuel gelling

Posted: Jan 28, 2019 9:53 PM

CERRO GORDO COUNTY, Iowa - Cold snaps are nothing new for Midwesterners, but this week's weather is cause for alarm, as schools are starting to cancel classes.

At the same time, we wanted to know how school transportation maintains buses in this cold weather.

Jammie Pokorney's son uses the bus to get to school. With life threatening temperatures in the forecast, she's a bit concerned about sending her kid to school.

"Just walking out there, you don't know if the bus is running late. If they are late, then how long does your child sit out there? If they come early because they're on time, then the child is running out there to catch the bus on time, slipping and falling in the cold weather, no one is seeing that."

Kevin Zeitler is a mechanic with transportation for Clear Lake Schools. He feels that their buses can operate right in the cold, as they are stored inside, the batteries are inspected, and have block heaters on a timer. But one thing they keep an eye on is the possibility for diesel inside the fuel tank to gel, which can clog the tank and fuel filters, making a bus inoperable.

"You have your summer fuel and you have your winter fuel, just the additives they put in it, that's how it generally starts to gel up."

While classes have been called off for Tuesday and Wednesday, Zeitler ensures that everything is ready to go during these colder periods, and has a plan in place if something does happen. 

"Make sure everything is good to go, and if they have school tomorrow or in the next couple days, we're ready."

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