Refurbishing Buses Saves Bucks

Posted on February 1, 2002

A school district in suburban Dallas has found a way to save money by turning its oldest buses into its newest. Mike Williams, transportation director at Rockwall Independent School District, recently received delivery of a refurbished 1987 Ward 71-passenger school bus, one that had been destined for the scrap heap. Williams says the bus was rebuilt bottom to top for $30,000 by Lear Siegler Services in New Boston, Texas. “I gave them two raggedy old buses that we would have otherwise sold for scrap, and they replaced the floor, seats, engine, drivetrain, the whole bus, really, with new or rebuilt parts,” he says. “It’s a neat program.” The buses are restored by ASE-certified mechanics who strip the bus to its frame and rebuild it piece by piece. In the process, they also bring the buses up to current standards by adding white roofs, stop arms and tinted windows. The refurbished bus, which was towed to the Lear Siegler facility from the Rockwall bus compound two months ago, has been put into route service, while the second bus is due for delivery in the next few weeks. The bus is being monitored closely. “So far, it looks pretty good,” Williams said, adding that he’ll make monthly reports on its progress to the school board. He expects the refurbished buses to last from five to eight years and to deliver up to 200,000 miles. By restoring instead of retiring the buses, Williams said the district is saving about $30,000, the difference between the refurbishing cost and the cost of a new bus. Next year he hopes to have three buses refurbished, depending on the program’s success. New buses are not entirely out of the picture, however. Refurbishing older buses will help to keep the fleet size at its current level, but Williams says new buses will be procured to help handle the district’s rapidly expanding enrollment, which he said is growing about 7 percent each year.

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