Approximately 60 NC School Transportation personnel attended the 34th annual National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) conference at Myrtle Beach from October 24-30.
It is billed as the “School Transportation Industry's Showcase Event” attracting school transportation personnel from all 50 states and numerous countries from around the world. Also attending are all of the major vendors who supply buses and equipment to the entire transportation community.
More than 2000 delegates attended the 34th annual event. Here the delegates listen to an inspirational speech in the grand ballroom.
The conference spotlights notable events throughout the school transportation industry such as the “America’s Best” school bus inspector. At a recognition breakfast on 10/27/08 Yadkin County’s TIM SPEER received an award plaque for his achievement of being the best bus inspector in America from Don Carnahan, V.P. of Zonar, one of the major sponsors of the event. Each year the national bus inspector winner is sent to the NAPT conference free of charge as part of their “winnings”.
USA’s #1 bus inspector Tim Speer receives award from Don Carnahan of Zonar
America's Best bus technician-First Place: Matt Bliss (left), New Jersey (ORIGINALLY FROM FAYETTEVILLE, NC!!)
Throughout the week there are non-stop presentations, classes, workshops, and break-out sessions being presented by featured speakers and industry leaders. NC’s own Derek Graham presented several sessions that showcased the “Love the Bus” program.
During the week many Professional Development classes are taught which allow the attendee to receive certifications in different areas that deal with pupil transportation. These courses are generally free but limited to a minimum number of participants.
The showcase event during the week is the trade show which was held on Oct. 28 & 29. This event serves as a grand stage for the newest products and latest technology the industry has to offer. This year over 140 exhibits covered the 100,000+ square foot Myrtle Beach convention center floor. The exhibits range in size from a small booth showing off one or two products to 10,000 square foot areas being occupied with numerous shiny school buses and plenty of sales folk assuring that their product is the best. Just about every booth was giving away flyers and information about their product(s). Many vendors would entice onlookers with candy, pens, hats, and T-shirts. Some of the trade show goers gathered so much free stuff that multiple tote bags were necessary.
The Thomas Bus exhibit was large and full of people
The 2009 trade show will be held in Louisville Kentucky. Everyone should visit at least one NAPT convention during their transportation career.
NC DPI Field Transportation Consultants; James Hawkins, Charles Ball and Randy Henson pose before attending an event on Sunday evening.
Derek Graham instructs a class about NC’s LOVE THE BUS program to a large & enthusiastic audience at the conference.
ITRE’s Mickey Michael talks GPS with a vendor at the trade show. Mickey is the program manager for TIMS located at NC State campus.
Forsyth Co. Transportation Director Rhonda Fleming listens intently to one of the vendors
The Spec. committee met during the conference.
(L-R) Randy Henson, Curtis Hodge, Craig Warren, James Hawkins, Reid Cagle, Danny Cassavaugh, Charles Ball, Wayne Stephens, David Clark, Ricky Whaley.
Union Co. was represented at the trade show. Many of the technicians were amazed at the variety of new technology on display at the trade show.
Jeff Tsai taught a session dealing with School Siting and Pupil Assignment. Jeff is the Director of the Pupil Transportation Group at ITRE located at NC State.
Bluebird Corp. introduced a new Type D bus during a curtain raising ceremony that was attended by hundreds.
Toni Weaver Floyd (Watauga Co. Trans. Dir.) and Frankie Floyd (Ashe Co. Bus Garage) at the very impressive Cummins engine display.
Terry Barlow and Rick Jennings from Wilkes Co. made the journey to Myrtle Beach.
Tim and Candie Speer from Yadkin County visit the America’s Best booth manned by Mike Bullman, Training Director from the S.C. Dept. of Education. “America’s Best” hopes to encourage more technicians to participate in local and national bus inspection contests and to promote school bus safety.
John Chesser, Associate Director for Research Services at UNCC Urban Institute instructs a class about the TIMS system that NC operates for route management.
The vendors used every kind of tactic to attract attention.
Terry Campbell (Iredell), Chip Smith (Cleveland), Beth Jennings (Guilford) are wearing their hats hoping to be spotted by a vendor who is randomly giving away prizes to conventioneers wearing a hat with the “Bus Finder” logo.
IC Corporation displays a stripped bus to prove to the world that they have nothing to hide.
Some unlucky sailor found out the prevailing winds of Myrtle Beach are stronger than the anchor that was supposed to keep this boat parked offshore. The boat washed ashore during the conference and attracted 100’s of onlookers.