The Rockwood School District west of St. Louis has its name on the side of school buses for the first time in 42 years after transitioning transporation service back in-house, a move it said is expected to save $500,000 in the first year alone.
“We thought we could do it cheaper by bringing our fleet in-house, when faced with a 15-percent increase in proposed contractor rates for our school transportation requirements,” said William Sloan, director of purchasing and transportation director at Rockwood School District. “We have more control over the operations, procedures and policies, plus there’s improved accountability as the transportation staff are now part of our team.”
A district spokeswoman told STN that the decision to regain control over its own transportation services was first approved in February by the school board. The department began hiring transportation staff and school bus drivers a month later.
Located in Eureka, Missouri, the 22,000-student school district also recently received its new order of 164 Blue Bird Vision and All American FE buses from dealer Central States Bus Sales in May. The clean diesel buses run on an ultra-low sulfur fuel and are certified to meet and exceed current EPA emissions standards.
“Our customers want to lower operational costs and address environmental concerns," said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. "We are here to help."
The district chose the new clean diesel buses after reviewing all the alternative fuel options. “It was obvious diesel powered buses have become cleaner and get better mileage than previous diesel buses,” Sloan said. “The buses are quiet and burn very clean with very little if any exhaust smoke.”
Based on preliminary information provided by Rockwood School District from the first few weeks of operation, the Blue Bird All American FE buses average close to 10 miles per gallon, compared with 7.5 mpg with the older fleet, said Blue Bird.
“Our drivers are very happy with the choice of the bus supplier,” Sloan added. “The quality of the Blue Bird buses is second to none.”
Rockwood School District said it is counting on intangible benefits, as well. “The buses will be easily recognizable, as the district name is displayed on the side of the bus,” Sloan said. “We believe this will create a sense of community and pride, especially when our high school teams compete at other district venues.”