Richmond School’s aging bus fleet requires replacement plan

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Sixty percent of the school buses being used by the Richmond Public School System are more than 12 years old, and the system’s Chief Operating Officer Richard Hixson told the school board Monday night it’s time to implement a replacement plan.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, the state requires school board to have a schedule for replacing their school buses.

Forty buses were bought in 1995, one of them was bought in 1993, 18 were bought in 1992 and three were bought in 1990.

Screenshot of Facilities Infrastructure Assessment for Fiscal Years 2014-18

Screenshot of Facilities Infrastructure Assessment for Fiscal Years 2014-18

Danyelle Graham’s four-year-old son rides to school on one of Richmond’s school buses.  She is 28 now, and that means she was five-years-old when those three buses were bought in 1990.

“I didn’t think a bus could be that old… that’s a shock,” said Graham.

Graham said she worries about her son’s safety on an older bus.

She asked this question, “Is everything working properly?”

According to the school system’s Hixson, the buses are safe, but the real issue is the maintenance costs for older buses.

“They’re safe, they’re reliable…but they cost a lot of money,” Hixson said.

To remedy the problem, the COO wants the board to adopt a replacement schedule.

“If we could generate a replacement schedule for the next five years, of 15 new buses per year replacing the old buses, we could reduce the average age of the fleet from 13 years down to 10 years,” said Hixson.

Hixson told the board each new bus would cost $80,000-$90,000, with a total price tag of roughly $1.3 million each year for five years for 15 new buses per year.

It’s a plan that board member Kristen Nye Larson wishes already existed.

“I am a little discouraged there wasn’t a plan like that already in place,” Larson said.

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