Bus Acquisition Information
Explanation of the process of the new bus purchases.
Fact Sheet – Bus Acquisition
As of the 2016-2017 school year, the District’s school transportation fleet consisted of about two hundred (200) buses. The average age of a District’s school bus was fifteen (15) years old with the oldest bus in operation being twenty-seven (27) years old. Due to the age of the buses the District incurred constant maintenance and repair costs along with frequent breakdowns. Each year, the District continued to see rising costs in maintenance and repair of the buses. According to the DPS Treasurer, in fiscal year (FY) 2016, total maintenance for school buses was $221,130 with parts being $352,214 totaling $573,344 in cost to the district. These were mostly "avoidable costs."
The Ohio School Board Association (OSBA) recommends replacing school buses every 7-8 years.1 Newer buses are much more fuel efficient. According to the Ohio School Board Association, if the 2000 model year school buses had economy of 4-5 mpg, then 2013 model year economy was 9-10 mpg.
With Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), Ohio Association of Public Treasurers (OAPT) and Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Pupil Transportation Office anticipating new school bus prices significantly increasing, the District resolved to purchase new buses before those increases occurred. Based on the above information the District elected to lease-purchase one hundred and fifteen (115) buses. With brand new buses, under warranty, the maintenance and parts expenses cited above will largely disappear (except rare situations where neither warranty, nor insurance cover maintenance/parts). Buses with better fuel economy will result in a proportional decrease in fuel expenses for the District.
The District is a member of the Southwestern Ohio Education Purchasing Council (EPC). Each year, the EPC publicly advertises for sealed proposals from its member Districts regarding potential upcoming bus purchases (as well as for other purchases, such as electricity, natural gas, etc.). All bids and the EPC School Bus Program evaluations that are received are sent to each participating member District that will review and accept or reject their desired bids.
The District received three bids from the EPC. Upon reviewing the bids, it was determined that Myers Equipment Corporation, a dealer of Thomas buses with 80 years in the school bus industry, was the lowest responsible bid received. Cost of a regular school bus with 10 year warranty was $83,376. The special needs school bus with warranty was $92,877. The Transportation Department was able to select all of the options they wanted in the buses purchased. The Director of Transportation, Administration, and the Board of Education used the following factors to support the decision to purchase the 2018 model of the Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2311TS buses:
- Thomas buses have increased visibility due to their large windows, enabling the driver to see children outside the bus more easily and from more angles;
- The slope of the front hood allows the driver increased visibility when students cross in front of the bus; and
- Thomas buses have a wider door and larger driver compartment, allowing for easier student entry onto the bus with book bags in tow, and;
- The larger driver compartment is more comfortable for our employees;
- The safety and security options of each of the 115 Thomas buses include air disk brakes and a 4 camera system;
- DPS has good experience with Thomas buses over the past years;
- Thomas buses offer a 10 year/200,000 mile, bumper to bumper warranty.
Additionally, the District was able to secure a 2.06% interest rate for seven year financing the 115 school buses. The rate is significantly lower than what other manufacturers and banks were offering. According to an OSBA advisory, “The net effect is if you lease-purchase several buses, you may save enough operating cost to reduce the effective price of the bus by 20-30k.”
1OSBA's Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC) 2016 testimony: http://jeoc.ohio.gov/Assets/EventFiles/182.pdf