1. How many buses does the district have?
The district has a fleet of 113 buses. The breakdown is as follows:
78 large buses (65 to 66 passengers);
3 large wheelchair buses (57 passengers, 2 wheelchairs);
11 smaller wheelchair buses (22 passengers, 2 wheelchairs);
14 smaller buses (22 to 29 passengers); and
7 Suburbans (7 passengers)
2. How many students does the district transport daily?
The district transports 4,200 to 4,700 students every school day, traveling a total of approximately 1.2 million miles a year.
3. Why does the district need to purchase large buses?
Larger buses are made to withstand heavy use, which makes their life span longer than that of small buses; so, purchasing larger buses is more cost effective.
Larger buses are also needed for highway travel. At least 15 buses travel on Rt. 690 and Rt. 81 daily. Because of their heavier frames, large buses are better suited than small buses for this type of travel.
4. How does the district determine when a bus needs to be replaced?
Mileage is not the only consideration when determining which buses to remove from service and replace. The primary consideration is the age of the bus. The average life span of a school bus in Central New York is roughly 10 to 12 years mostly due to weather conditions. All of our buses are parked outside, which accelerates the deterioration of their bodies and frames. The salt mixture used on local roads is corrosive. Even though buses have an undercoating to prevent some rusting, during the winter, the salt and ice melt sits on the cavity of the bus working its way up the body panels and frame, which weakens the structure of the bus. After about 10 to 12 years, buses require costly and necessary repairs to pass New York State inspection. It is not cost effective for the district to repair these vehicles.
5. Why does the district have to purchase buses annually?
The district has to purchase buses annually in order to ensure that we have enough buses in operation every school day to run all of the routes, even if several buses are in the garage for maintenance work. On any given school day, there are usually about 6 to 9 buses out of service for maintenance and inspections.
We have to annually replace buses that have deteriorated to the point where they are no longer safe and will not pass state inspection, in order to make certain that the district has enough buses in operation each day to cover every route.
6. Why are buses so expensive?
Over the last few years, the cost of school buses has increased over 20%. This is mostly due to federal mandates requiring bus manufacturers to build a cleaner burning engine that reduces the carcinogens in exhaust fumes. The Environmental Protection Agency has mandated that emissions from all buses manufactured in 2010 have less then .5% of nitrogen oxide. The cost of developing this type of engine is passed on to consumers, which are usually school districts.
7. Why do I sometimes see buses with only a few students on them?
Usually, when you see a bus with only a few students on it, you are probably seeing a bus at the beginning or the end of its route, depending on the time of day.
We also transport several special needs students to other schools in the Central New York area. We use 2 large wheelchair buses and 10 smaller wheelchair buses to transport these children. We use the large wheelchair buses on routes so that students in wheelchairs can ride a regular route with neighboring students.
8. Why do the buses have GPS systems on them?
The GPS tracking and information system that the buses are equipped with provides the transportation department with the ability to locate a bus, monitor its activity and view history as well as generate and analyze data. The GPS system used in the buses is not a system that gives directions like the ones available for personal use.
Approximately 34 buses are currently equipped with the GPS system. The increased cost when purchasing a bus with the GPS is about $275. This cost is reflected in the annual bus purchase proposition.
The cost for air time and support for the GPS system is reflected in the transportation department budget.