“School district fleet manag- ers across the nation are finding, through their comprehensive evaluation, that Blue Bird school buses make economic sense,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. Since 1927, the Blue Bird Corpo- ration has maintained an industry standard in “its innovative design and manufacturing capabilities,” according to its website. To help reduce the total cost of ownership for districts, the company claims to have a higher percentage of school buses on the road than in the shop for repairs. “We had a quick return on invest- ment due to the immediate savings from both fuel and routine mainte- nance expenses, and this factors into our overall cost of ownership,” said Nienstadt.

Running that Bus to the End To determine Total Cost of Ownership, the Tomas Built Buses website provides a calculator to clarify the projected price tag for school districts seeking to update their school bus fleet. Yet, what of the districts that continue to reap the benefits of acquiring resilient vehicles some time ago? Pete Meslin, the transportation

director for the Newport-Mesa Uni- fied School District, has a fleet with buses that are on average roughly 13 years old. Meslin said he relies on the superb skills of his technicians to expand the time the aging fleet is on the road. Like most school districts nationwide, Newport-Mesa USD depends on grant money to keep its school buses current. “We try to purchase a couple of buses per year, unless we receive grant money, in which case we maximize the grant offering. Tat means that some years, we may purchase 15 or so vehicles, while other years we purchase just one or two,” said Meslin. While the Total Cost of Own-

ership is valuable in the long term, it’s that initial cost to buy new buses that forces a number a trans- portation department to explore other options. Most options involve seeking money from outside sources, since the ability to buy larger buses, as Meslin reported, doesn’t make sense to purchase without grant assistance, which usually has stipulations, like purchasing alternative fuel buses. “Periodically, they do offer grants, which provide significant assistance in purchasing these more expensive alternative fuel buses in exchange for destroying older diesel buses. Unfortunately, the grant money hasn’t been able to meet the de- mand. Terefore, our fleet is aging,” said Meslin.

While Tomas doesn’t offer grants, Smith mentioned that there are numerous grant opportuni- ties for school districts to pursue. “Most notably for the purchase of alternative fuels vehicles or for the replacement of buses for new buses with cleaner burning diesel engines that adhere to current EPA standards,” said Smith. For the state of Nevada, the rule of thumb is that the larger districts buy new buses and smaller districts buy used buses. Most of the new buses purchased by smaller districts are the result of grant money. If grants are unattainable, these smaller districts “purchase used buses due to budget constraints. To some of them, a 15-year-old bus is new,” said Diana Hollander, director of pupil transportation for the Neva- da Department of Education. Hollander reported that Neva- da has no mandated replacement schedule, leaving it up to the districts to determine when replace- ment is necessary. Tis can mean that, statewide, the average age of the fleet is typically between 10-15 years old, with some as old as 20 years old.

A large portion of school districts “generally won’t buy buses that 41


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68