After hearing data from its Transportation Department earlier this month, Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board gave approval for the purchase of seven vehicles for a total of just under $1 million Wednesday.
The purchase is comprised of three new 84-passenger school buses, two new 42-passenger special-needs school buses and two 14-passenger shuttles. The lease purchase agreement shows $199,962.68 annually through Jan. 1, 2024.
Preparing for the lease-purchase, Director of Transportation Sergio Pulido had already outlined for the board the current fleet situation amid a growing student population.
“In transportation, you always want to be an organizational culture that prioritizes people over programs and invests in the support of students and staff,” Pulido said. “Transportation will continue to transport students in a safe, friendly and efficient manner anywhere at any time – let it be transporting students to different school sites, on field trips, routes or even functions for the City of Maricopa.”
48 buses (including vans and shuttles)
160 square miles
Pulido said the district’s many unpaved roads are responsible for much of the wear and tear on buses.
124 general-education routes
72 special-needs routes
315 special-needs students door-to-door
40 bus drivers
4 substitute bus drivers
9 substitute bus aides
10 non-CDL drivers (also bus aides)
5 office personnel
Pulido: “Retention is at its all-time high right now, and I’m very proud to say that.”
73% are 12 years or older
17% are 3-11 years old
10% are the newest purchases
Average mileage on current buses 180,000-280,000 miles (expected ideal lifespan 350,000)
Pulido: “Newer vehicles are important, knowing they have reliable vehicles that are not going to break down or overheat during their routes or field trips.”
“Last year, yes, we had a few failures. These items were addressed and repaired right away. Buses were back on line the very next day. To prevent future failures, what we have done in Transportation is added a mock DPS inspection to every vehicle that comes into the shop for [preventive maintenance] services. This is important because it would keep the vehicle in compliance according to minimum standards and to the Department of Public Safety. We will continue this practice on any future vehicles that we purchase.”
“On newer vehicles, we’ve already experienced on the four big buses that we’ve bought in the past, they’re better quality AC units; they’re efficient and they work very, very well. Most of those vehicles are on field trips. Less breakdowns and more efficient units. What we’ve done is taken measures and better steps to improve our AC units, the older ones that we have, so they’re working. We’re replacing the parts, which are filters, condensers, compressors, expansion valves, things like that. We spent quite a bit of money last year on repairing these AC parts on these vehicles.”
“Student overload, we definitely want to prevent that. We’re not going through that right now, and I’m very proud to say that, but we’re very close to that. Avoiding double runs is another important factor. Last year, we all know that we experienced quite a few double runs at the high school and middle schools. Adding more buses will prevent that from happening.”