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SPS to Buy 31 New Buses

School Bus

Many Springfield school buses need to be replaced, and thanks to a $3 million lease-purchase contract, 31 new sets of wheels will go round and round Springfield with the start of the new school year next month. KSMU’s Ryan Welch has more.

The state’s recent cuts in transportation funding were not enough to keep Springfield Public Schools from buying new buses.

Spokesperson for Springfield Public Schools Theresa Bledsoe says this was possible by shifting around less urgent costs so that more pressing expenses could be addressed now.

“During tight financial times, we’re always looking for ways to reduce costs. And so sometimes in the past, there has been a decision to defer capital purchases like buses. There were two or three years in a row in the 1990s where we did not purchase any buses. So eventually, when you’re not replacing them on a regular basis, your bus fleet can age pretty quickly,” Bledsoe said.

The average retirement age of buses is 14 years old. Springfield’s bus fleet contains 51 buses that are older than that. 41 buses in the fleet are more than 20 years old.

Bledsoe says the district would normally only be able to buy two or three buses in a year. She says the district will be able to retire aging buses and have a younger bus fleet age. She says that’s important for student safety and efficiency of the whole operation.

Bledsoe says the lease-purchase agreement with Commerce Bank makes it possible for the district to pay for the 31 new buses over the course of eight years. The district is able to make the payments by way of its existing transportation funding.

For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.