EUREKA, Mo. — For the first time in 42 years, school buses displaying the Rockwood School District name are transporting students — while helping to save money and improve air quality, according to the district.
After deciding to end a contract with a transportation company, the 22,000-student district purchased 164 buses from Blue Bird dealer Central States Bus Sales this summer. The district expects the shift to save $500,000 in the first year alone.
“We thought we could do it cheaper by bringing our fleet in-house, when faced with a 15% increase in proposed contractor rates for our school transportation requirements,” said William Sloan, director of purchasing and transportation at Rockwood School District. “We have more control over the operations, procedures, and policies, plus there’s improved accountability as the transportation staff are now part of our team.”
The Blue Bird Vision and All American FE buses run on ultra-low sulfur diesel and are certified to meet and exceed current Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards.
“For 90 years, Blue Bird has been committed to bringing the latest bus innovations to schools,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “Our customers want to lower operational costs and address environmental concerns. We are here to help.” The district chose the new diesel buses after reviewing alternative-fuel options.
“It was obvious diesel-powered buses have become cleaner and get better mileage than previous diesel buses,” Sloan said. “The buses are quiet and burn very clean with very little if any exhaust smoke.”
Based on preliminary information provided by Rockwood School District from the first few weeks of operation, the Blue Bird All American FE diesel buses average close to 10 mpg, compared with 7.5 mpg with the older fleet.
Rockwood School District also expects to benefit from having its own name on the new fleet.
“The buses will be easily recognizable, as the district name is displayed on the side of the bus,” Sloan said. “We believe this will create a sense of community and pride, especially when our high school teams compete at other district venues.”
Watch a video about how Rockwood's school bus drivers prepared for the new school year: