Four new school buses for School District 51
Boundary School District 51 is one of three districts the provincial government has recently awarded money to replace aging school buses.
Last week the government announced that SD 51 would get $540,523 to purchase four new Blue Bird buses.
Every year the school district submits a capital budget to the province which includes a proposed schedule to replace things like aging buses and buildings, said superintendent Michael Strukoff.
“We applied for four buses and we got them all,” said Strukoff, who was naturally pleased by the good news.
Strukoff said he was a bit surprised to get the decision on their application so early in the school year.
“We usually get a spring announcement,” said Strukoff. “But with the HST going back to GST and PST, it is a financial advantage to order the buses sooner.”
SD51 buses are continually maintained by two certified mechanics and the fleet is inspected by the Department of Transportation once a year. The four buses to be replaced meet much of the government’s criteria for replacement, including their age, mileage, and some ongoing maintenance issues like rust, said Strukoff.
The school district operates 11 buses across the district but has five spares for field trips and breakdowns bringing the total to 16. There are two bus garages, one in Grand Forks and one in Midway.
The new buses will replace the four oldest buses and will be used on the longest routes in the district, said Strukoff. Those routes include the one that goes from Midway to the Christian Valley and possibly Christina Lake.
The buses being replaced will then replace any spare buses that are older than them. The four oldest buses in the fleet will then be sold.
“They are hard to sell,” admits Strukoff. “And we don’t get a lot of money for them.”
The other two districts to get the bus funding include SD 53 Okanagan Similkameen with $135,131 for one bus and SD67 Okanagan Skaha with $270,262 for two buses.
The buses are part of a $14 million investment by the provincial government to replace 125 buses across the province.
The new clean diesel buses are supposed to reduce exhaust particulate emissions by 90 per cent compared to the 1994 bus models. According to the government press release, the new Blue Bird buses get between 30 and 60 per cent better mileage than gasoline fuelled buses.
To qualify for replacement, a bus needs to be used on a regular school route and meet or exceed the mileage and age requirement. For a 78 to 84 passenger bus like the ones used in SD51, the buses had to be at least 15 years old or have 400,000 kilometers on them.
The buses have yet to be ordered, so it is unknown when they will arrive and start to be used.