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PURCHASING AND INVENTORY CONTROL Tese controls are the utmost importance in a cost-efficient system. Tey are the basis for buying quality parts and supplies at the most competitive prices, in quantities that are reasonable according to the expected use. Te controls assure availability of items when needed, but do not tie up money needlessly or add to the possibility of obsolescence. Controls provide for account- ability and make misappropriation more difficult.


BENCHMARKING THE AVERAGE SCHOOL BUS MAINTENANCE COST Information relative to management practices is shared at the


numerous trade association meetings over the course of a year, which have included industry expert presentations on many va- rieties of industry operating topics. However, we have not been able to, with any degree of accuracy, share the average actual cost of maintaining a bus fleet. We have recently seen life cycle maintenance cost projections


that have been developed to target specific vehicle comparisons, none of which give any information to an operator as to answer the question, “How does my cost to repair my fleet compare to the rest of the industry?” With more than 450,000 relatively similar school buses operating across North America, we have the basis to gather data that could help provide information many operators may find useful to support business decisions within their districts and companies. To collect that data is a difficult challenge; however, once gathered and sorted a meaningful benchmark is established. Recently, STN requested information from more than 100 school district transportation department representatives that STN would use to calculate the average maintenance material and labor cost to maintain an average school district fleet of bus- es. Data was collected and sent in by 42 districts with the total number of buses exceeding 8,000 (a breakdown of approximate- ly 400 Type A, 6,800 Type C, 900 Type D vehicles). Tese were used to calculate the trend or average of the number of mechan- ics to bus ratio, the number of buses to shop bay facilities, the total maintenance expense per bus (parts, tires, oil and lube and shop supplies). See the table to the right for the average benchmark data of


the respondent fleet. Compare this data and that at on the STN website to your allocated maintenance expense, labor and the total of parts, tires oil and lube and supplies to see where you fit into the average benchmark. If you discover more than a 10-per- cent variance, refer to the four basic requirements in this article. If you find that you are better than average, congratulations, and keep it up. l


How does your fleet compare? Visit our Web Exclusive section at stnonline.com/news/web-exclusives to see a break-


down of average expenses for larger fleets with more than 100 buses and smaller fleets with less than 100.


Total number of buses reporting expenses for parts, tires, lube and supplies:


8,143


Total reported expense for maintenance: (per bus)


$32,393,210 $3,975


Total number of buses reporting labor expense: (199 of the 307 mechanics reported)


5,867 Reported labor expense: (per bus) $9,445,358 $1,610 Total average maintenance cost per vehicle: $5,585 Average wage for 199 of the 307 mechanics: $47,464 Average number of buses per shop work bay: 26 Average number of buses to mechanics: 26


Replacement age, in years, for the reported buses:


11 15


Average bus age, in years, ranging across the respondents:


6 10 www.stnonline.com 33 5,867


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