NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Legislation that amends current law by extending the service life of Tennessee school buses to 18 years or beyond was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam on April 22 and is now in effect.
Previously, a conventional (or Type C) school bus could be operated for 12 years subject to passing an annual safety inspection, and the commissioner of safety was permitted to approve an additional five years of service if the bus was inspected twice a year. Additionally, any Type C bus in its 16th or 17th year of service was required to have fewer than 200,000 miles of use.
Also under the previous law, a transit-style (or Type D) school bus could be operated for 15 years subject to passing an annual safety inspection, and the commissioner of safety was permitted to approve an additional two years of service if the bus had fewer than 200,000 miles of use and was inspected twice a year.
Under the bill that was approved by Haslam, Type C and Type D buses may be used until they reach their 18th year of service, and the commissioner of safety is permitted to approve years of service beyond that on a year-to-year basis. However, buses operated in their 18th year or beyond must have fewer than 200,000 miles of recorded travel.
If the bus reaches 200,000 miles, the owner must notify the Tennessee Department of Safety in writing. The bus can be operated throughout the rest of the school year, and then the bus must be replaced.
Similar to the previous law, any Type C or Type D school bus that is in use for 15 to 18 years must be inspected by the commissioner or the commissioner's designee at least two times per year.
The Department of Safety is allowed to collect a fee for additional inspections conducted for buses that are used in their 16th year of service or beyond. The fee must be paid by the owner of the bus.