NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill in the state General Assembly would allow school buses to be operated for as long as they are found safe in inspections.
Tennessee Sen. Ken Yager introduced the legislation, SB 1461, on Jan. 8. It would prohibit the State Board of Education and the Department of Safety commissioner from limiting the use of Type C (conventional) and Type D (transit-style) school buses by years of service or by miles driven — provided that the buses are inspected at least once each school year.
Under the bill, state inspectors could still require repairs or reconditioning to be made that they consider necessary for the continued safe use and operation of the bus. If the bus owner refuses to take the required action, or if the inspector considers continued use of the bus to be unsafe, the inspector could order its removal from service.
Officials in some Tennessee school districts, including Morgan County and Scott County, have recently been calling for another increase in the state’s limit on school bus service life.
Four years ago, a state bill was passed to raise the maximum age for school buses from 15 to 17 years.
Under the current law, the normal retirement age for Type D school buses is 15 years, but waivers can be obtained for an additional two years. For Type C school buses, the normal retirement age is 12 years, but waivers can add five years.
For the extended service life, buses have to be inspected twice annually and meet other conditions. For example, any school bus being operated for a 16th or 17th year must have mileage under 200,000.
Yager's bill, which would go into effect on July 1, was referred to the Senate Education Committee last week.