SUGAR GROVE – While there continues to be a nationwide bus driver shortage, at Kaneland there’s also the constant challenge of maintaining its fleet of buses since they spend a lot of time on the road as the district covers 140 sq. miles.
The latest news in transportation at Kaneland will include the addition of five, one-year-old replacement buses. The board unanimously approved the purchase of the buses during the Jan. 27 board meeting for a total of $408,515, which includes a $13,000 trade-in value.
“We are still allowed five years of depreciation on these buses, which I put into our transportation claim,” said Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, associate superintendent. “Historically, if there’s a mechanical defect it’s identified within the first year so they’re not giving us buses that have had problems.”
The buses will come on July 1 so that they’ll be ready for the 2020-2021 school year.
Bus transactions are nothing new at Kaneland, which buses kids to four elementary schools, Harter Middle School and the high school in Maple Park. This school year the district replaced two large buses with one-year-old buses as well as three shorter, 28-passenger buses and an 18-passenger bus with a wheelchair lift for $358,582 after the trade-in.
“You can see that as the buses age the maintenance on the costs do go up,” Fuchs said. “When I talked to the mechanic, I asked him when do the buses really start giving you a lot of problems. He said anywhere after 10 years is when they start costing and giving him more problems then others.”
Kaneland’s fleet currently includes 13 buses that meet that age criteria.
Midwest Transit Equipment will supply the replacement buses, which have been used by one other district for one year. That particular district replaces its fleet with new buses making the one-year-old ones available.
These 71-passenger IC/CE buses costs $84,303 each and feature Cummins engines, which are the preferred engines according to Kaneland’s mechanics. Each bus will have less than 20,000 miles on it.
The buses that Kaneland is trading in have 71 years between the five of them and will leave the district with just eight buses that are older than 10 years.
“Some of these that we’re trading in, they’re sitting on the lot pretty much every day unless if something goes down,” Fuchs said. “Not all five of them, I think there’s two right now that they don’t use very often unless if they have to, of these five.”