Talawanda Schools, which starts classes today, Aug. 15, is replacing five new buses in its transportation fleet with new vehicles that include enhanced safety features, according to the district.
The new buses — three standard 72-passenger buses and two special education buses — include child restraint seats built into them.
The new buses, which aren’t expected to be on the roads until after Labor Day, include:
- STAR child restraint systems built into the seats for students who may need to be restrained as required by an educational plan or as requested by parents. All other buses have restraint systems that have to be installed and take up seating space when students who do not use them are being transported.
- Angel Trax camera system that monitors driving practices, similar to a “black box” in an airplane. All other buses in the Talawanda fleet with be retrofitted with the camera system as well.
- Transmissions that increase fuel efficiency from the current 6.5 miles per gallon to about 8.5 miles per gallon
- LED strobes and flashers, to make the vehicles more noticeable to oncoming traffic and at railroad crossings
The five new buses were purchased by the district’s transportation provider Petermann, bringing to 13 the number of new buses added to the fleet over several years.
District Treasurer and CFO Mike Davis said new bus replacements will continue through 2022, with nine more to be purchased each of the next two years and two in fiscal year 2022.
“The costs of these five new buses is approximately $500,000, or $100,000 per vehicle and the expense is on Petermann's books, not the district's. This is an enviable position for our taxpayers as I know of districts that are struggling with the costs to replace their aging fleets,” Davis said, adding the geographical size of the Talawanda district, 138 square miles, adds a lot of wear and tear on buses.
The buses drove a total of 600,145 miles last year on 31 regular routes.
“So, each bus drove an average of 19,360 miles last school year,” Davis said. “According to Google the circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles. So last year our total miles driven would circumnavigate the earth 24 times. Our total miles driven is about 2.5 times the distance between earth and the moon. That, too, is according to Google.”