More than half the buses used daily to shuttle students to Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 schools have more than a quarter-million miles on the odometer.
“There’s going to come a day that we can’t pick somebody’s kid up,” warned Re-1 transportation director Lena Galloway.
Addressing school board members earlier this month, Galloway said that 11 of the district’s 20 route buses had more than 250,000 miles. Of those, three have more than 350,000 miles, she said.
As a rule-of-thumb suggested in a 2002 National Association of State Directors for Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) report, school buses should be replaced every 250,000 miles or every 15 years.
“It’s a fiscal cliff that were hurdling towards,” said Re-1 Superintendent Alex Carter.
A new school bus, depending on its features, may cost $65,000-85,000.
The district’s current $1.08 million student transportation budget has less than $85,000 allocated for parts and supplies. The district’s current capital reserve fund totals $1.01 million.
Despite the limited funding, Galloway praised her mechanics for maintaining the district’s aging fleet. The oldest bus, currently utilized as a backup, is a 1986 International. The bus requires custom-made replacement parts, officials said.
Of the district’s 20 route buses, six are 2005 models are later. On average, they have nearly 99,000 miles each.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average annual mileage for all school buses is approximately 8,000 miles. According to Galloway, a 2011 bus, which has no warranty, racks up some 4,000 miles every month.
In addition to mileage concerns, Galloway also advised board members that the video equipment used on the district’s bus fleet was more than a decade old, adding that only three buses currently had operational surveillance equipment.
Across the Re-1 district, 2 in 3 students rely on buses to provide daily transportation to and from school. The fleet travels nearly 3,000 miles per day, or almost 500,000 miles per school year.
The district currently has 29 buses, ranging from 1986 to 2011 models.