Almost like a back-to-school haircut, Wilton’s school buses got spiffed up in preparation for the start of the school year. On Aug. 20, all 43 of STA‘s buses got a much needed scrub and wash. As it does each time the buses are cleaned, the transportation company takes steps to make sure the baths are environmentally conscious.

To power wash its fleet, STA uses a vendor called Trans-Clean, a company that provides on-site mobile fleet washing services for local and national truck fleet operators. They use a system to prevent any of the water run-off from entering nearby drains and waterways.

Instead, Trans-Clean’s primary method of stopping water run-off is to actually capture it and remove it from the location.

Each bus is washed individually on a polyester, vinyl-coated wash mat that contains the wash water and funnels it to a vacuum hose which collects the water in holding tanks inside the Trans-Clean truck. The company then takes the reclaimed water to its own facility to be discharged and treated under state permits and regulations.

It’s a quick process–the three-person Trans-Clean crew took less than 10 minutes per bus to get them clean.

In addition, Trans-Clean blocks all accessible storm drains with covers to prevent what little water might escape the wash mat from spilling into nearby waterways. Wilton’s bus barn on School Rd. is both situated near the Norwalk River and surrounded by wetlands.

The buses get washed monthly and Trans-Clean uses the system each time. STA also covers the storm drains every time the buses refuel, and monitors nearby water sources.

“We’re surrounded by wetlands. We do water sampling every quarter or so. All the fun things no one thinks about when they see the school bus coming down the road, there’s a lot more to it,” says Wendy Nieman, STA’s on-site manager,

If they didn’t use this system as a safety measure, STA would be required to obtain a permit from the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The process is both environmentally safer and cost effective, according to Chris Burney, Wilton’s director of Public Works and Facilities & Energy Management.

“With the amount of waste-water discharge into the storm drain system it’ll go down to the middle of the river. So, if they weren’t going to carry it away it would have been more expensive and taken more time to put together,” Burney explains.

The cost of maintaining the bus fleet falls to STA as part of its contract with the town. According to Burney, Wilton pays the bus company based upon miles traveled and diesel fuel consumed, and STA provides all of the service, maintenance, and cleaning.

Over the summer months STA performs maintenance and tune-ups to the buses and makes sure they’re able to transport students safely at the start of the school year.

“The last thing that they did, they go through and they check every seatbelt. Not every community has a bus with every seatbelt so we’re lucky in that way. So at this point the buses have all been checked out, they’re good to go,” Burney says.

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