BISD buys new buses - Brownsville Herald: News

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BISD buys new buses

Purchases adding new life to aging fleet

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Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013 10:08 pm

Those taller school buses with the big front windshields showing up on Brownsville streets are the leading edge of the wave of the future for the Brownsville Independent School District Transportation Department.

BISD recently took delivery of 18 new special needs buses from Thomas Built Buses, Inc. of Raleigh, N.C. Another 42 Thomas Built regular buses are starting to arrive and 12 additional regular buses will be delivered later in the year for a total of 72 buses, representing an investment of $6.4 million and more than one-quarter of BISD’S 300-bus fleet.

The new buses have a wider, deeper windshield and a lower hood, making it easier for drivers to see children crossing the street to get on the bus, as well as the road in front of them while they’re driving.

“It’s important for parents to know, and for the community to know, that the district has taken a very serious position to purchase these new buses,” Transportation Director Art Rendon said.

He said child safety was the biggest factor leading the BISD Board of Trustees to approve the purchases last May. BISD safely transports more than 27,000 students daily. The district also is implementing an automatic bus replacement schedule to ensure the fleet’s continual upgrade, Rendon said.

“The drivers are excited to be driving new buses,” Rendon said. “Visibility was a major factor with the taller profile and larger front windshields. Before any of the buses were placed into service, each of our drivers spent about two hours training on the new buses.”

BISD will now embark on a “solid preventive maintenance program to carefully maintain the new buses,” Rendon said. Prior to arrival of the Thomas buses, BISD still had in operation some 1993 model Chevrolet buses, he added.

“We carefully moved out of operation buses that require too much maintenance and designated some spare buses. The rest will be moved out following a process for the disposal of surplus equipment,” Rendon said.

As the new buses arrive, each must receive a thorough inspection and be entered into the district’s fixed asset inventory. Registration, license plates and insurance also are needed.

“More importantly, no bus will be placed into service until it is fully equipped with a radio, camera, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and other important safety equipment,” BISD said in a statement. Additionally, BISD drivers complete multi-point inspections of their buses before and after running their routes each day.

The new buses are equipped with six-cylinder Cummings Diesel engines and get from eight to nine miles per gallon compared to two mpg for the buses they are replacing. Rendon said maintenance costs also will be significantly lower.

In October, two buses manufactured by International Corp. caught fire while transporting BISD high school students. The two buses were of similar make and model. The district and the manufacturer are in the process of determining the cause of the two fires. No official report on the results of the investigation is yet available, BISD said.

glong@brownsvilleherald.com.

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