The transportation department at Southern California's William S. Hart Union High School District has spec'd these Blue Bird Type D school buses with components to turn them into activity buses. Blue Bird Type Ds were chosen because the department is working to standardize its fleet.
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Faced with a demanding field trip schedule and the continued need to save money, William S. Hart Union High School District’s transportation department has designed its own activity buses in collaboration with A-Z Bus Sales, and the transportation department expects to save around $4,000 per trip on the longest trips by using these vehicles.
In a given week, the operation can provide transportation to the district’s students for 200 field, activity and athletic trips.
During a recent visit to the operation, Director of Transportation Richard Varner told SBF that with the high number of trips and the average cost to get a charter bus for the trips, he decided it was necessary to explore more cost-effective options. He then came up with the idea to develop the district’s own activity buses.
The activity buses can accommodate 44 students. The coach-style seats have been crash tested, and the buses also feature overhead open storage compartments and a ducted air-conditioning system.
Varner purchased three brand new Blue Bird Type D buses and prepared the specifications for the vehicles to turn them into activity buses. Spec'ing the vehicles took three years.
“It took three years because the coach-style seating had to be crash tested,” Varner explained, adding that the seats have seat belts, and he chose to go with Blue Bird Type Ds because he is working on standardizing his operation’s fleet.
In addition to coach-style seats, the activity buses — which have been certified by the California Highway Patrol — are equipped with overhead open storage compartments, a ducted air-conditioning system, and they have WiFi capability.
Each bus can accommodate 44 students. “Initially, we wanted 46 students to a bus, but we removed a row of seats to provide the passengers with more legroom,” Varner said. (The buses are often on the road for three to four hours during trips.)
Here’s a shot of the driver’s compartment.
The cost to convert the buses was $35,000 each, and they were funded through a lease purchase. Varner estimated that using these activity buses will cost around $2,000 per trip on the longest trips, which will yield a substantial savings considering that the average cost to get a charter bus for the longest trips is around $6,000.