Twenty brand new school buses are delivering Habersham County students to and from school. The buses are safer, more reliable, and offer quite a savings on gas, according to school transportation officials.
The sixteen 72-passenger buses and four special needs buses replace much older models in the school system’s fleet.
“Our current bus fleet was aging and causing costly repairs,” says Habersham County School Transportation Coordinator Stephanie Walker. “In the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, we were running a 1991 bus daily.”
She says before the new buses arrived, forty-three percent of the school system’s 72-passenger and special needs buses were 15 years or older.
Safety and savings
The new buses include many safety features the older buses don’t have. They’re equipped with dual hand rails to help students board and disembark, bright LED lights on the exterior, and higher back seats for student protection.
Another feature is the child-reminder safety system. This system requires the bus driver to walk to the rear of the interior of the bus to push a button before they can leave the bus. The system is designed to ensure no child is left behind.
The new buses cost the county school system $1,769,444. They were purchased with funds from the local option sales tax for education (ELOST).
The school system stands to recoup some of its investment through cost savings on gas and repairs.
Buses over 15 years old typically get around 5 miles to the gallon; newer buses get between 7-9 miles to the gallon, says Walker. With Habersham County school buses driving an approximate combined total of 6,000 miles per day, that’s a significant fuel savings spread over a 180-day-long school year.
Out with the old, in with the new
With the addition of the new buses, Habersham County can now send its oldest school buses to surplus and retire others to be used as spares.
“Due to the high number of buses we run daily to support the students of Habersham County, we will still have buses in our fleet to be used as spares that are 1994 and 1995,” explains Walker. “Our decision to surplus buses is based on the cost to run that particular bus, parts replacement history, availability of parts and many other factors. Our updated fleet count will remain about the same since we have a number of buses ready to surplus.”
Walker says she and Habersham County School Transportation Director Tim Dockery are “beyond thrilled” with the addition of the new buses.
“The purchase of new buses comes back to benefit each student in the Habersham County School System and with the enhanced safety features, it helps us know they’re even more protected.” She adds, “We would like to personally thank the citizens of Habersham County for supporting the ELOST, which includes the purchase of new school buses, and Mr. Cooper and the Board of Education of Habersham County.”