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If I can use it in the mountains, then okay.” Jackson said he also wants to test the collision mitigation system.


“Everyone wants something like that,” he said. “One of our goals is to reduce our at-fault accidents, and that would be a great tool.” Nicole Portee, the executive director for transportation for nearby


Denver Public Schools, agreed with Jackson about first seeing how the new technologies perform in other districts. She also agreed they could be a boon to student transportation safety. “I’m always excited about how they are enhancing the safety com- ponent with technology, but there is not enough information,” she explained. “We want to see how those buses are performing. It helps us with the conversation with our community and with our boards.” Portee, the current STN Transportation Director of the Year, said the majority of her fleet are Blue Bird buses, but she also has Tomas and IC. Like Jackson, Portee is trying to keep her fleet young by managing a replacement process that retires buses after 13 to 14 years. “We look at the overall inventory of buses, and the maintenance


and repair of the fleet,” she said. “Tis tells me how much each bus is costing me and whether I should buy new buses. We look at the average age and mileage. Tose buses that are flagged to retire from the fleet tell me how many new buses we need to balance the fleet.” Portee said she also considers technology when purchasing new


buses. All buses purchased over the past four years have three-point seat belts. She said the district uses Zonar Z Pass, GPS and cameras. It has also added disc brakes. Portee said a voter-approved bond upgraded the camera system and provided tablets for her drivers. While the entire fleet is diesel, the district is in conversations about adding propane buses, as well as electric buses, Portee report- ed. “We want to make sure our technicians are able to maintain the electric buses. We also need to know how long they can run, because some of our buses run for six to seven hours a day,” she added. Paul Lauria, president of fleet management consultant Mercury Associates, Inc., said that while school districts are dedicated to student safety, money is the driving force behind purchasing decisions. “If a bus costs $100,000 and a district is purchasing it outright, they tend to keep that vehicle as long as possible, because the amount of cash to make that purchase is much more than keeping an old bus in the fleet operational,” Lauria said. “Tis is not unique to any one sector. Organizations that purchase vehicles outright tend to have older fleets.” Lauria said that if a school district’s objective is to replace all


vehicles every 15 years, the average age of those vehicles will be 7.5 years. “Te reality of what’s happening, is a lot of school districts have vehicles with an average age of 10 years, so it will take 20


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Safeguard Superstar 36 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2019


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