In just the first week of school, Alachua County Public Schools has put 40 brand new school buses on the road, and another 40 will be added over the next few weeks.
With the lease-purchase of the 80 new buses, the average age of a bus in the district’s fleet will drop from 12 years to three.
The district is receiving about 20 of the new buses each week. Each bus runs approximately $110,000, at a total cost of $8.9 million.
“These newer buses offer many advantages over our existing fleet, including significantly lower costs to operate and maintain them,” said the district’s director of transportation Reginald Thomas. “They’ll also mean improved service for students because we’ll have fewer breakdowns.”
The new buses, manufactured by Thomas Built Buses and distributed by Matthews Bus Alliance, have enhanced air conditioning systems that will significantly improve ventilation for drivers and passengers, which is a major advantage during the COVID pandemic.
They get twice the mileage than the district’s existing buses and require less maintenance. The buses also come with five-year, bumper-to-bumper warranties and six-year warranties on the air conditioners, both of which will save on long-term maintenance costs.
The new buses run on clean diesel, a type of diesel fuel that reduce harmful emissions.