What a great article!
Like CA, WA has had very low failure rates. This is partly due to the fact the Washington State Patrol sees every bus at least once a year and 60% of the buses twice a year.
A school district that has less than 100% passing inspection rate tends to get on the radar of the WSP very quickly. Once you are on the radar they will be spending a lot more time in your bus garage inspecting everything.
But probably the greatest factor in low failure rates is the age of the bus inventory. Some years ago the State kicked in a bunch of extra $$$ to get every pre-1977 bus off the road. Since then they have shortened up the depreciation schedule from a high of as much as 25-years down to 13-years. As a consequence there are very few buses left in service in WA that are much more than 15-years old. At 13-years old most of the buses have less than 130,000 miles. With today's engines and transmissions if you can't get a bus to go 13-years you need to go into another line of work. Even tires and brakes are lasting longer with the greater availability of auxiliary braking systems.
The article didn't seem to be a hit piece so much as someone raising a warning flag about the potential disaster that is waiting to happen unless the age of the buses and quality of repairs isn't addressed.