AMETEK DFS is Making the School Bus Wheels Go Round

Using DurA-Tek Prime® Pump Will Keep Those Buses Running

The Montgomery County Public School system (MCPS) in Maryland operates approximately 1,350 school buses each year. That makes it the 8th largest school bus fleet in the country, covering cities such as Rockville, Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Silver Spring.

With that many buses on the road, the chances of a few buses requiring service are much higher. There will always be the normal wear and tear on tires and suspension systems. However, other larger issues such as the need to replace circulation pumps can slow the fleet down.

“The Fleet Maintenance department has had a recurring issue throughout the fleet with traditional recirculating pumps on both the rear-engine and conventional-style school buses,” said Leon Langley, assistant director of MCPS and immediate past president of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. “We’ve replaced hundreds, if not thousands, of these pumps over the years.”


While the MCPS maintenance team has gotten efficient at replacing these inferior pumps and keeping downtime to less than one day, no one can predict when a pump will fail. This led to all sorts of unscheduled repairs, and increased the costs associated with labor and replacement parts.

School bus fleets have been using the same old products with short life cycles for some time. In 2016, MCPS had 932 buses with circulation pumps and it replaced 245 pumps in the previous 12 months. Now, due to budget constraints, maintenance teams are stretching everywhere they can. That’s turning those old products into expensive products. The existing age of the average fleet of school buses is over nine years. The “budgeted” financial allocation for new school buses is based on a vehicle life of 12+ years, and that number is increasing.

MCPS was on an unsustainable path. That’s when it connected with AMETEK Dynamic Fluid Solutions (DFS) at an industry conference. AMETEK DFS has had products installed on heavy-duty city buses since the early 1990s. Its DurA-Tek Prime® pump is a coolant circulation pump specially designed for the school transportation industry.

The MCPS maintenance team was intrigued. They installed DurA-Tek Prime® on two of its buses and allowed the buses to run throughout the winter months and into summer.


DurA-Tek Prime® is a brushless pump featuring a magnetically coupled, seal-less design that eliminates leaks. With a 40,000-hour design life and components that are routinely used in heavy-duty transit applications, the pump head that is utilized on this product is the same as is used on heavy duty city buses.

Because brushes and seals will wear out over time — causing the failures MCPS was experiencing — AMETEK DFS created the easily retrofittable DurA-Tek Prime® pump, eliminating the parts that wear. AMETEK DFS didn’t build a better mousetrap; it simply eliminated the mice.

A two-bus test was all it took for the MCPS maintenance team to become believers. “The pump is well built, and provides worry-free operation with a great warranty,” said Langley.

On the front end, a DurA-Tek Prime® pump is a more expensive product compared with its competition. But maintenance teams know that the upfront cost of the pump is just a fraction of the expense over its life. Bus downtime — especially if the pump fails while on a route with a full load of kids — is exponentially more expensive.

AMETEK DFS estimates that over the six-year operating life of a school bus, DurA-Tek Prime® will save approximately $800 per bus on average. A 12-year operating life can realize a savings increase of over $1,600 per bus. These savings do not take into account any down-time costs, or towing costs costs to send out another bus driver to which to move the children. 


Ever since 2016, when it switched to AMETEK DFS, MCPS has witnessed zero downtime due to pump failures on its buses fitted with a DurA-Tek Prime® pump. In fact, MCPS, which purchases between $12-$14 million worth of school buses each year, has been so impressed with DurA-Tek Prime® that it mandates the pump as original equipment on all new buses produced.

“Due to favorable results, we only factory install AMETEK DurA-Tek Prime® brushless pumps on all new school buses,” Charlie Ewald, MCPS fleet maintenance manager said. “The volume of repairs and money saved over the long term is significant and proven to be a smart specification.”

DurA-Tek Prime® Pump Features:

  • Magnetically coupled, seal-less design eliminates leaks enhancing pump reliability and durability
  • 40,000-hour design life for maximum performance
  • Retrofit mounting and connectivity for most applications
  • Brushless technology yields increased ROI over brush technology
  • Engineered to last 12 years; virtually maintenance free
  • Up to a 7-year warranty when specified in new bus procurement; 3 years as replacement