Above: Nikki Smith, Beth Carton and Sue Keegan form the team that oversees 29 daily bus routes across the Geneseo school district’s 260 square miles.
February 7, 2022
It was in the spring of 1946—seven and a half months after the Allies emerged victorious in World War II—when George Pinks of Geneseo was considering his professional options.
Despite his father’s wishes, George was interested in getting into the transportation business. It was just a matter of whether it would be buses or trucks.
“My grandpa said he didn’t want him to do either,” recalls Beth Carton, George’s daughter. “He was very against it but told him that if he insisted on one, to buy the buses because kids always have to get to school.”
George did just that, purchasing a pair of buses, founding Pinks’ Bus Service, and opening for business on April 18, 1946. When Pinks’ began transporting local students in 1948, its fleet added 12 more buses.
Three quarters of a century later, Pinks’ is still going strong, even in the face of the pandemic. While portions of the 2020-21 school year involved remote learning, the district was determined to get students and teachers back in the classroom for 2021-22, something that could not have happened without Pinks’.
For their dedication and help with ensuring Geneseo’s schools remain open, superintendent Dr. Adam Brumbaugh will recognize Pinks’ owner/president Beth Carton, and her colleagues Sue Keegan and Nikki Smith, at the Board of Education’s February meeting and award them Maple Leaf Medallions.
“We take so much pride in providing all of our students with a healthy and safe learning environment, from the moment they board the bus to the time they are dropped off,” states Dr. Brumbaugh. “Pinks’ has played a very important role for an incredibly long time, and we can’t thank Beth, Sue, Nikki and everyone who drives buses enough for all that they do. We’d also like to acknowledge Beth’s late husband, Jim, who for over three decades was instrumental in transporting our students.”
It’s been quite a ride for Pinks’, which currently runs 29 daily bus routes across the district’s 260 square miles and serves approximately 1,750 eligible student riders.
Even with stretches of remote learning last year, Pinks’ buses still totaled 385,576 miles, including rides to athletic and scholastic events. That figure exceeds half a million in a normal school year.
It all began with George, who according to his daughter was regarded as nice but firm, and tough but fair when it came to business.
“He was honest, and he really cared about the work,” says Beth. “He learned pretty quickly that as long as he did a good job and operated the right way, Pinks’ would be around.”
When George passed away in 1982, however, the family considered selling the business. Multiple bids were placed to purchase Pinks’, but in the end, Beth knew what she wanted to do.
“I grew up here,” she explains. “I started out painting bus wheels when I was 9 or 10 years old, and the business has always been part of my life. My brothers left the area, but I made the decision to stay.”
Beth took over the business, and when she married Jim Carton in 1988, he got involved too, becoming a driver and leading the company’s safety drills. Jim passed away in early 2020, but the collaborative team of Beth, Sue and Nikki forges ahead, running the day-to-day operations with a clear-cut top priority.
“Everything we do and ask the children to do is for their safety,” Beth states. “When you’re driving a bus, you’ve got 60 kids behind you. It’s not like you’re in the front of the classroom looking directly at them. Our drivers are tasked with watching the road and traffic, as well as keeping an eye on the children. That’s a lot of responsibility and we take it very seriously.”
From wintertime weather to keeping track of all the young riders, each day comes with its challenges. But time and time again, Pinks’ comes through for the community.
“We try to tell our drivers that they truly are essential,” Beth says. “But they just don’t get enough credit for what they’ve done over the years, especially since the pandemic started. It really speaks to their dedication.”
Beth is quick to note that many drivers have been with Pinks’ not just for years, but decades. It speaks not only to George’s vision and the foundation he created, but the ongoing efforts of Beth, Sue, Nikki and the drivers who continue to provide such a vital service.
“We’ve always been fortunate to have a lot of good people driving our buses,” concludes Beth. “We take pride in what we do, and we go with the flow.”
Below: George Pinks founded Pinks’ Bus Service and opened for business on April 18, 1946.