In times of tight budgets and reduced funding many school districts are choosing to buy used school buses to replace older models. The benefits of upgrading to newer used school buses include reduced pollution and improved student safety.
Education budgets are shrinking across the country with less funding available to local school districts from federal and state budgets many districts are seeking innovative ways to maintain education standards while reducing costs. One way has been through the purchase of used rather than new school buses.
In Michigan the Thornapple Kellog School District recently decided to purchase three used school buses rather than new ones. The district’s Finance Director Chris Marcy said the district will save about $20,000 per bus for a total savings of $60,000. The savings can be repurposed for education.
The districts total cost for the three buses is just over $169 thousand. Each of the used buses has fewer than 50,000 miles which in terms of bus life expectancy makes them teenagers. The Thornapple Kellog School District expects to continue retiring older vehicles throughout their fleet in which many of the buses date back to the early 1990s and some currently have more than 240,000 miles on them.
The question of budget cuts is one that affects virtually every school district in the nation. This is why many districts are turning to the used school bus market to replace all or part of their aging fleets and save much needed resources for student education. School district decisions to replace aging buses is newer ones is also a matter safety and environmentally sound.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out that more than half of today’s school buses have been in service for more than a decade. Older buses lack current pollution and safety features with some emitting nearly twice as much pollution per mile as a semi-truck. This is pollution that is breathed in by the same students districts are transporting.
These older more polluting buses can lead to significant health risks for students who typically ride the bus for one and a half to two hours per day. It’s important to not that children are far more susceptible to air pollution than adults because their young lungs are still developing.
Asthma which affects 6.3 million school children every year is the most common long-term childhood disease in the county. This fact alone is causing many districts to upgrade their older vehicles with newer, cleaner used school buses. Older school buses negatively impact not only children but entire communities including another highly vulnerable group, senior citizens.
School districts should consider putting in place a system to assess their school bus fleet and determine which buses are ready for replacement and setting a schedule for the remainder of the fleet. An orderly process can help districts further control rising costs by allowing them adequate time to research and shop for the best available used school buses.