By Selwyn Harris
With the median age of close to 20 years, several of the buses at the Nye County School District NCSD transportation yard will soon be replaced with 15 recently purchased buses according to Transportation and Maintenance Supervisor Cameron McRae.
During a board meeting last March, trustees approved a resolution for the purchase of the big yellow transports.
McRae said the district initially wanted to buy 10 new vehicles but that number was eventually pared down to seven.
He also said that eight additional buses were purchased last year.
“The option between the available finance money and the available cash on hand in the capital accounts, I had the choice to buy 10 new buses. Between the two I had about $1.4 million dollars available. Subsequently, I made a decision to buy seven new buses and eight reconditioned buses for the same $1.4 million dollars. That’s why over the summer, we acquired eight reconditioned route buses for approximately $400,000. We then downgraded the new buses to seven for the $1 million dollar short-term financing,” he said.
McRae also said he hopes to have all of the brand new buses on the road fairly soon.
“We did successfully receive our seven new buses. They are here and they got semi-inspected today. Now that I can get them licensed and get them fully inspected and get them on the road as soon as possible,” he said.
The district took possession of the seven school buses this month after the resolution was ratified by the board several years back.
“The school board a while back authorized the replacements. It was an authorization of a 2006 money commitment of short-term financing that we had paid off for the new buses I was able to buy in 2006,” he said.
The transportation supervisor also said that the $1 million commitment allowed the district to get a fair market price for the seven activity style buses all with the latest safety features including air conditioning and compartments for trips.
Some of the buses will provide transportation for students in northern Nye County.
“I have a tentative displacement of them to replace a couple of the buses in Round Mountain, Beatty and add the balance to be put in my activity fleet here in Pahrump. They have slide-through compartments on the bottom for gear and equipment. They also have luggage racks inside so when teams go places the kids have someplace to stow their gear. Most of our trips are to Las Vegas and back but we still do quite a bit of traveling. Hundreds of miles to places for the athletics,” he said.
The brand new 2013 models are completely decked out with all of the bells and whistles.
McRae said they cost more than $140,000 each.
They were paid for by rolling over the district’s bonding money.
“The way we got them cost $141,000 apiece. They have the latest emissions control systems, electronically controlled engines and the air conditioning systems which are expensive. These buses will be the second run of new utility buses that we bought with air conditioning. In 2007, I bought three of them with air conditioning. They have been in Beatty since that point. All of those things tend to increase the price of the bus,” he said.
As far as the eight previously owned route buses, they range in age from 2003 model to 2010.
McRae said all have been gone through with a fine toothcomb in terms of safety and reliability.
Another safety feature on the buses are surveillance cameras which McRae said can allow the district to go back and review footage in case an incident occurs among the driver and or students while the bus is traveling to its destination.
“The video recording systems that we have on the buses, though it is not real time those systems have integrated GPS for locating and tracking speed. We can pull the hard drives and extract that data at anytime we have access to the bus. We can actually see where they are going, which way they are going, the speed that they traveling. We can even determine whether they use their turn signals or whether they activate their students’ lights appropriately. There is a whole list of thing that we can verify what the drivers are doing. It is all integrated within the video recording system that we have on the bus,” he said.
The older buses in the fleet of roughly 100 are from the 1990s.
It is standard procedure for the district to replace buses that have been on the road for at least 20 years.
McRae said all of the aging vehicles will eventually be sold off.
“As I get these new buses in service for example, I just sold three buses at the surplus vehicle auction and I will be selling more. I maintain approximately a 100 bus fleet between my active in-service buses, my in service spare buses and I have a handful of buses that are yet to be in service should something happen to an older bus,” McRae said.
Last year the district safely transported upwards of 3,389 students out of more than 5,500 registered students.
By area, the Nye County School District is the largest in the United States.
Drivers and bus aides travel more than 1.3 million miles each year.