Students will soon be riding on new buses following a $1.3 million purchase by the Cobb Board of Education.
The board on Thursday night unanimously approved the purchase from Austell-based Yancey Bus Sales and Service that will bring 16 new buses to the district’s fleet of 1,150.
The buses average about $82,000 each. A state program will pay for about $77,000 per bus with the school district paying the difference from education special purpose location option sales tax funds.
Rick Gresham, director of transportation, said the district opted to add to its fleet while the state was offering the cash.
“We wanted to take advantage while it’s available,” Gresham said.
The transportation department employs 1,141 people. Its operating budget is $47.5 million, up from almost $45.8 million the year before. The budget was $44 million in 2011.
About 78,000 students are transported by Cobb buses each day.
That brings on wear and tear, said school board Chairman Randy Scamihorn, and adds thousands of miles every day to the fleet.
“I don’t know of any parent that would want their children on an unsafe bus,” Scamihorn said.
Karin DeAmicis sends her first-grader and third-grader to Mountain View Elementary in east Cobb on the bus each day.
“We have no complaints,” DeAmicis said. “Our bus driver is also super. They’re very careful with kids getting off with the correct parent or guardian.”
She’s happy to see the school district upgrading its buses.
“I have no problem with giving new buses, especially if they’re environmentally friendly,” DeAmicis said.
The county operates a program that takes buses out of rotation once they see too many miles or have other problems.
Industry standard is to replace buses every 10 to 15 years, but the county replaces them on average every 17 years.
Gresham says the county wants to move toward replacing buses every 15 years.
The new buses will also be more environmentally friendly, meeting the state’s emissions requirements, Gresham said.
Cobb schools also recently opted into a program with Arizona-based American Traffic Solution that mounts cameras to the sides of school buses, capturing on video drivers who do not come to a full stop when the bus is letting children off.
Drivers can be fined $300 on the first violation.
Not all new buses will have the cameras, though, because the school system is monitoring bus routes to decide which ones have the most violations from drivers.
By the numbers
Cobb School District Transportation
- Total number of buses: 1,150
- Special-needs buses: 281
- Employees: 1,141
- Budget: $47.5 million
- Fuel cost in 2012: $7.5 million
- Students who ride: 78,000
- Student eligible to ride: 93,000