Walter D. Tom Thomson II
The Olentangy School District will have nine new buses for the next school year.
The 71-passenger buses, which will be purchased from Center City International through the Columbus-based Metropolitan Educational Council (MEC), will cost $80,634.35 per bus, to come out of the fiscal year 2012 budget.
Bob Thompson, Olentangy’s interim transportation director, offered his proposal to buy nine new buses at the school board’s work session earlier this month. The district currently owns 157 buses with nine of those being regular spares.
The accepted practice across the school transportation industry is to maintain about 15 percent of the total fleet as regular spares. By purchasing the 9 buses, it brings the percentage up from 6 percent of the fleet to 11 percent of the fleet, still below the minimum practice.
With each driver doing a 15-point inspection on their bus before going out for the day, many buses can get put into service, and an operational spare is put out on the road, Thompson said. Spring field trips can also put the spare buses out onto the road.
A life expectancy of a “stop-and-go” passenger pick-up diesel bus is about 15 years or 175,000 to 200,000 miles. The Olentangy district averages about 184,000 miles before removing a bus from the fleet to be used as a spare bus or as spare parts.
In an ideal scenario, the Ohio Department of Education recommends bus replacement between 10 to 12 years for maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness, Thompson said.
During the 1996-97 school year, the district purchased 11 buses, then in the following three school years (1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-00), purchased only seven buses over that time. In the 2000-01 school year, the district had to purchase 15 buses. Other large bus purchases of 20 and 24 in years 2003-04 and 2004-05, respectively, were made as well.
The future bus purchasing schedule recommends more buses to avoid such extreme expenditures in the future.
Last year, the district purchased six school buses.
Each of the new buses include a 10-year, 150,000-mile warranty, a three-camera system and a two-way radio.
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