Indiana State Police unveil online school bus inspection database

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More than seven years after the project began, the state has put its school bus inspection records online. The move follows multiple Eyewitness News investigations exposing thousands of serious safety violations on Indiana school buses. 

In 2008, 13 Investigates found serious safety problems throughout a huge fleet of contracted buses used by Indianapolis Public Schools.  Months later, WTHR found the same thing on hundreds of other school buses throughout the state.  Some of the problems were missed by Indiana State Police during their annual school bus inspections.

"I wouldn't want my kids on a bus like that," admitted  ISP Sgt. Brent Alspach, who then ran the state's school bus inspection program.  Like Alspach, many parents were surprised to see so many safety and mechanical problems on Indiana buses.

Following the investigation, ISP said it was working to develop an online school bus inspection database. The program would allow parents to see inspection results for their child's school bus.

That was more than five years ago.

What ever happened to that public database?  13 Investigates asked ISP that question this spring, and a department spokesman told WTHR that creating an online inspection portal for parents was not a priority.

"Keep in mind, our goal here is not to create something for the public. That is a by-product. Our goal is to create a tool for conducting thorough, efficient, robust school bus inspections as we are required to do by state law," said ISP Capt. Dave Bursten.

Then 13 Investigates exposed more serious bus problems, including some Indiana school districts with nearly 50 percent of their buses ordered out of service for mechanical and safety problems -- problems that parents are not told about.

Parents around the state told Eyewitness News they want to know about safety problems on their kids' buses.  

"I would like to be told. I would definitely like to be told," said Keturah Jackson. Eyewitness News informed Jackson that her son had been riding on a Gary school bus with a long history of safety problems.

So Eyewitness News collected ISP inspection information and put together our own online database for parents, providing public access to inspection results for every school bus in every school district across the state.

That appears to have given state police some inspiration. Just two months later, ISP has now done the same thing.

This week, ISP unveiled its own school bus inspection database that includes records from more than 30,000 inspections. It provides instant access to bus inspection results from any computer.  Information that used to take months to get is now available whenever you want it. Unlike the WTHR database, the ISP database is continually updated with new inspection information. 

"It's actually updated sometimes hourly, generally daily," said Sgt. Chris Kath, the school bus safety coordinator for Indiana State Police. He says the inspection data now online is something Hoosiers have a right to.

"We as parents would like to see that information and it shouldn't be reserved for people that work in that industry… it should be [available] to any parent who's putting a child on a bus."

Access the Indiana State Police school bus inspection database here.  

Once on the site, simply select the county where the school is located and follow the on screen directions to view selected school bus inspection records. 

You can refer to this information guide from ISP: 

1. Select the County of the School Corporation 
2. Select the School or School District 
a. A pie-chart summary of the most recent annual inspection is displayed reflecting the initial inspection results. 
b. The initial annual inspection results DO NOT reflect the current status of the bus fleet 
i. To see only the Approved, Ordered Repaired or Out of Service inspection results from the original annual inspection, click on either Total Approved, Total Ordered Repaired, or Total Out of Service 
ii. To see definitions of these categories, hover the mouse over the selection 
3. To see the current status of any bus, select ‘View Inspections' 
a. Select the PDF to the right to view the printable inspection record 
b. To see historical inspection records of any bus select the bus number on the far left side of the screen 
i. This displays all records for a specific bus dating back to Oct. 2011 
ii. Select the PDF to the right to view the printable inspection report