RSU 71 returns to regular runs after six school buses were pulled after inspection sticker violations discovered

Posted:  Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 9:00pm

Six RSU 71 school buses were pulled from circulation after inspection sticker violations were found with each of them, according to a March 7 social media post from Superintendent Mary Alice McLean.

As of the afternoon of March 12, the bus runs have returned to normal, “with two runs each for the Swanville and Tri-Town communities,” according to a prepared statement shared by Superintendent McLean the same day. All the RSU 71 buses currently being operating have been deemed safe after independent inspections.

RSU 71 comprises Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Searsmont and Swanville.

The removal of the buses resulted in two after-school activities being canceled, and bus routes have been temporarily consolidated. Those affected by the consolidated bus schedule include students in Searsmont, Belmont, Morrill, and Swanville.

A “thorough investigation into the reasons behind the buses’ removal from circulation and inspection sticker irregularity,” is being undertaken, and a plan will be put forth for structural changes in transportation and maintenance for the district, according to the post.

Superintendent McLean ended the post by reminding parents and students that student safety remains a priority.  

McLean’s prepared statement was shared at an RSU 71 board meeting March 11, which reads in part:

“I know from having spoken with parents, grandparents, and staff that the RSU 71 community is concerned and upset -- quite justifiably so -- about the fact that this past Wednesday, March 6, 2019, five Maine State Police from the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit came to do an independent inspection of the RSU 71 fleet of 21 buses, deemed that six were not roadworthy, and took these six out of circulation.

“This action required that we quickly combine bus routes until buses could be repaired, an action which has seriously inconvenienced students and families, as students have taken longer to be picked up for school and have also taken longer to get home after school.

“Needless to say, we are responding with a complete review of our processes and procedures in order to determine what changes we need to make. A copy of all the bus reports made by independent inspectors will be available for the public to review beginning tomorrow in the central office at 6A Lion’s Way (down the hill from the high school) from 7:30 - 3:30 daily.

”All the buses currently on the road have passed independent inspections and been deemed safe. All bus runs should be back to normal, with two runs each for the Swanville and Tri-Town communities. We are taking active steps to study our processes, procedures, and resources with an eye to making recommendations such that this never happens again.”


Erica Thoms can be reached at