For 9th straight year, AAPS buses receive perfect state inspection

For AAPS to continually mark this level of success in Michigan is an incredible achievement, official says

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

They did it again.

When the Michigan State Police bus inspections were completed this week, the AAPS bus fleet maintenance crew were happy to learn they’d received a score of 100 percent for the ninth consecutive year.

The AAPS/Durham Transportation shop has also been awarded the nationally recognized ASE Blue Seal of Excellence.

John Nickolich (in the white mask) stands with the department’s five mechanics: left to right: Nick Hadley, Tim Harding, Nikolich, John Maxwell, Dave Horvath, and Jim Scherzer.

With a fleet of 131 buses, there were no tags for any maintenance or safety issues.

“I work with an amazing group of mechanics and the best school district anyone could ask for,” says lead technician John Nikolich, manager of the maintenance crew for each of the last nine years. “We consider it an honor to care for the district’s 131 bus fleet, and take our responsibility seriously.”

John Nikolich walks among the fleet of buses.

It’s important to understand that roughly 20 percent of all inspections performed by the Michigan State Police School Bus Inspection unit result in minor or out-of-service failure notices, said Mark Petrozzi, Regional Maintenance Manager for National Express, the parent company for Durham.

“For the first quarter of this year, 17 percent of school bus inspections across the state resulted in a minor
or major failure,” Petrozzi said. “Failure rates for the past three school years statewide were between 19 and 22 percent. For AAPS to continually mark this level of success in Michigan is an incredible achievement.”

Tim Harding started working at the department a year ago.

“I would say this is probably one of the best structured maintenance facilities I’ve worked in,” he said. “They do everything here.”

Nick Hadley, who worked for the city of Detroit until three months ago, agrees it’s a great shop.

“All the equipment’s very up-to-date and they have no problem getting you the equipment and the parts you need, which makes it a refreshing place to work,” he said.

In fact, it was very nearly the 10th perfect year in a row, says Durham School Services General Manager Ed Gallagher.

“Ten years ago, they found a rust hole about the size of a dime in a 13-year-old bus’s sheet metal,” he says. “Otherwise, this would have been the 10th year in a row.”

In any case, it’s a remarkable achievement, says Liz Margolis, Executive Director, Student & School Safety. 

“Due to John’s leadership in the bus maintenance shop,” says Margolis. “AAPS families can rest assured that the buses their students ride are expertly maintained and top in the state.”

Nick Hadley and Tim Harding enjoy working for AAPS through Dunham, and say the facility is among the best they’ve seen.

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