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December 18, 2009  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

School bus sales continue to drop


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The number of school buses sold in North America fell 8.1 percent in 2009, marking the third year of decline in a row.

The number of school buses sold in North America fell 8.1 percent in 2009, marking the third year of decline in a row.

North American school bus sales dropped 8.1 percent in 2009, marking the third year of decline in a row.

There were 35,740 school buses sold in the U.S. and Canada in the 2009 sales year (Nov. 1, 2008, to Oct. 31, 2009), down from 38,873 in 2008.

Compared to the 2006 peak of 47,614 units sold, the 2009 total was down 25 percent.

School bus operations across the nation have been hit hard by budget cuts, prompting many to delay the purchase of new buses to replace aging models.

There had seemed to be the possibility of a jump in sales this year due to pre-buying ahead of the 2010 EPA emissions standards, which will raise the price of a school bus. Although there was a significant such sales increase in 2006, before the 2007 EPA standards, that trend did not materialize in 2009.

In SBF’s recent School District Survey, only 10 percent of respondents said they bought more buses this year than they normally would have due to the 2010 standards.

Despite the price increases next year, school bus manufacturers told SBF that they are projecting sales to be about the same.

A full breakdown of sales in 2009 as well as previous years will appear in SBF’s forthcoming 2010 Fact Book.

 


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I can remember in 1973 my dad purchased 4 Blue Bird buses for $8,500. each. They were 65 passanger conventional International buses. Now I am buying Thomas buses this year and paying almost 10 times more than we paid in 1973. I know we have added some new features such as digital cameras, AM/FM radios with CD players and PA. Also padded back seats, larger fire extinguishers, body fluid kits, triangle reflector kits, chalk blocks, larger first aid kits, automatic transmission, and diesel engines. The 65 passanger bus has been replaced by a 77 or 83 passanger bus because of driver shortages. My point here is that while the cost of a bus has gone up by 10 times that price in 1973. Our cost to the school distrects has only gone up 3 times what it was back then. So we are forced to keep the buses longer we were on an 8 year replacement striving for a 5 year replacement and now we are forced to a 10 or more year replacement. Believe me I know there has been a lot of new technology and I agree it is for the better of everyone. But schools are always looking to cut and always looking to us to reduce buses or our cost to them. I know that Governor Patrick here in Massachusetts has cut Regional School busing reimbursements from 50% to 29%. the only place the schools have left to cut is with teachers. I really don't know what he is thinking. Regional schools are more efficiently run. But they do need busing as a by-product. So this is going to continue to trickle down to the bus manufacturers and everyone suffers. Sorry if I am rambling. But our kids deserve better.

Clayton Tellstone    |    Dec 19, 2009 08:12 AM

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