Las Cruces Public Schools district administrators jstand in front of one of the dozens of new...

Las Cruces Public Schools district administrators jstand in front of one of the dozens of new air-conditioned school buses being used to transport students.

Photo courtesy Las Cruces Public Schools

Most of the school bus fleet that services the Las Cruces (New Mexico) Public School District is being replaced with brand new, air-conditioned school buses.

According to the Las Cruces Sun News, Student Transportation Specialists of New Mexico (STS-NM) received 92 brand new school buses this calendar year, with eight more on the way. Out of the 126 routes in Las Cruces Public Schools managed by STS, few older buses will remain. A local union school bus driver said in the summer, drivers will now be able to work in 70-80 degree weather, as opposed to 120-125 degree temperatures.

"Las Cruces Public Schools has made a commitment to student safety, and this new fleet is essential in that mission. The added comfort features will also ensure a better ride for our kids, and for our drivers who don't get nearly enough credit for the job they do for our district," district superintendent Ralph Ramos told School Bus Fleet.

This was part of the Las Cruces Transportation Federation Local #6341 bus driver union's negotiations that led to a one-day strike in October 2021. The STS-NM general manager told the Las Cruces Sun News the lifespan of a route bus is 12 years, and they would be replaced no matter what. The 100 buses being replaced have been in service daily since 2010. The 26 remaining route buses will be replaced when they've reached their own 12-year marks.

These replacements cost a little over $10 million. Some of the old buses are kept as back-ups in case of necessary service.

The buses are now equipped with air conditioning — three units in each. The old buses had no air conditioning. The new buses also have functioning AM and FM radio and built-in intercom systems. Most of the old buses had either malfunctioning intercom systems or none at all. Each bus now has three to four cameras to monitor drivers and students. Buses for special-education students have built-in car seats for students. Drivers no longer have to take external car seats in and out. The internal lights on the buses also turn on when the driver opens the door.