By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Good reviews are coming in on the new Longhorn activity bus put into service last Thursday.
Rex Felker, director of transportation for Chase County Schools, picked up the bus Feb. 3 in Grand Island. It was out on the road two days later, taking Longhorn wrestlers to the SPVA meet in Grant. It’s also been used by the speech team.
The drivers, students and public are all giving the 2016 Bluebird All American activity bus good reviews, he said.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Activities Director Troy Hauxwell told board members personnel from other schools have also commented on it.
Felker, who drove the 42-passenger bus back to Imperial from Grand Island, said it drives nicely “and is real comfortable.”
It’s painted white, with orange stripes and “Chase County Schools” emblazoned along the sides and Longhorn logos on front and back.
While Bluebird may be known more for its yellow route busses, their All American activity busses have a number of upgrades.
The All American unit purchased by CCS has higher backed seats with softer Naugahyde covering, air conditioning with individual controls over each seat and individual reading lights.
There is overhead storage for students, as well as additional “basement” storage underneath, Felker noted.
The drivers will also notice its six-speed automatic transmission (vs. five in route busses) and the more comfortable air-ride suspension.
Felker said there are many days more than one CCS activity bus is on the road.
Also used for activities is the 1996 Van Hool “Home of the Horns” unit, as well as a 14-year-old Bluebird yellow bus. A smaller 18-seat bus, also available as a handibus, is used for activities with smaller student numbers, he said.
Last September, board members approved the $154,373 activity bus purchase from Nebraska/Central Equipment in Alda, Neb. That came after months of discussion on replacing the 2008 Bus Coach International (BCI) unit that became disabled in December 2013 after just a little more than a year of use.
The school still has the BCI activity bus advertised for sale.
Second new route bus
At Tuesday’s meeting, the school board purchased another new route bus, using a $20,000 grant it will receive from the EPA.
Supt. Brad Schoeppey said grants were offered by EPA for purchase of school busses if they replaced another route bus that was less efficient.
Board members approved the $75,350 Bluebird “Vision” 42-passenger route bus from Nebraska/Central Equipment.
With about $65,000 available, Supt. Schoeppey said the board will have to borrow $10,000 from the school’s depreciation fund to pay for the bus. Those funds will be paid back once the grant money comes in, he said.
Last September, the board purchased another new route bus, the same exact unit as the one purchased Tuesday. Both new route busses this year will bring the school back in line with its bus replacement schedule, according to transportation committee members.