The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board approves purchase of used buses
By Seth Hancock
The current bus fleet in School District U-46 is 345 total buses (179 large/167 small) and is in line with the district’s plan according to Jeffrey Prowell, director of transportation.
Prowell gave an update to the Board of Education in April on the district’s age and obsolescence plan which was created in 1985 and modified annually.
“As of 2018, the fleet is current and in line with A&O (age and obsolescence) Plan with a few exceptions that have been approved by the Director of Transportation. Buses scheduled for replacement may be retained longer based on operating condition and mileage as deemed appropriate by the Director of Transportation,” the replacement plan states.
Buses, both small and large, are put on an 11-year cycle with fewer than 150,000 miles.
For this year, the recommendation was to replace 20 large buses which have between 110,674 and 150,698 miles.
The board approved of the purchase of 20 used buses for $1.4 million at its Monday, May 18 meeting. All used buses come from Round Lake School District 116 with a three-year warranty for engines and five-year warranty for transmissions, and all have fewer than 20,000 miles.
Prowell, who said purchasing used buses compared to new will save the district about $500,000, and said the district has purchased buses used at Round Lake in the past and they are “well maintained.”
Buying used buses conflicts with the recommendations to the board last year.
“Last year, I recommended to the board that we purchase new school buses and that was based on some safety features that were newly available last year,” Prowell said. “Those safety features did not have any positive impact on our operations, and in addition this year Midwest Transit, the vendor that we typically buy buses from… has over 1,200 used buses that they’re trying to get rid of.”
Prowell added: “So, the pricing on used buses was significantly better this year.”
Additionally, the district purchased some gasoline buses rather than diesel buses last year. Prowell said the gasoline bus engine being used is only in its second year and the district wants more time to collect more data before purchasing more gasoline buses.
“We have been testing them,” Prowell said. “They are working out well. We have some mile per gallon concerns. The market is very quickly changing to gasoline. About over 50 percent of the buses sold this year will be gasoline.”
Beyond this year, an additional 158 large buses and 145 small buses are expected to be replaced at some point by 2029-2030.