Photos: Courtesy Rich Mounts
IC Route: You’re famous for your ability to load the country’s biggest student marching band within minutes. How do you do it?
Rich Mounts: We take 21 band buses to football games. With 983 kids, we’re loaded within 15 minutes. The band director has complete control over those students, and each one knows which bus to board. So when we open the doors, they start popping in. I’m the lead bus for the band, and it takes a lot of effort to make sure everything is going to go right. I scout beforehand to make sure the route is clear: no detours, how many traffic lights and lanes there are, whether there are any railroad crossings. This ensures that we have a safe and uneventful trip.
ICR: What’s the best part about driving an IC Bus?
RM: They’ve got very, very good vision out the front and with the mirrors on the side. Mirrors are your most important piece of equipment. One of the major things IC Bus has done is build a safe bus. This is combined with a smooth ride and a great turning radius. When we pull the 21 band buses into the parking lot we see the other district drivers’ heads turn. It’s impressive.
ICR: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
RM: The kids. You know you’ve contributed to part of their growing up. When we get a kid on the bus, we give them a smile and a “Hello!” That helps to take away any bad feelings they might have had before they get on. And years later they remember that, you know? You’ll be around the town and graduates will come up and say, “Do you remember me? Thanks for all your help.” It’s an opportunity to have a conversation about life on the bus.
ICR: Your district has won impressive safety awards. What’s the secret?
RM: The Allen Board of Trustees is very supportive and gives us the needed tools to be successful. Our theme is “safety first.” It’s not a slogan but what we believe. It takes all levels of the district and the transportation department acting as one team to make it work.
ICR: Students can be excitable. How do you create a good environment on board?
RM: The first thing I do is introduce myself. Then we can talk about what I expect from them and what they can expect from me. The environment has to be consistent.