School District waiting on funding for new buses

At that time he asked for funding from the Capital Plan for five new buses, and now has an additional eight he'd like to replace.

"In past practice, we would have had the buses by now, or just about had them."

The buses Fitzgerald wants to replace have reached the end of their recommended life time. The five buses he applied to replace last year were all near the Ministry of Transportation's guidelines of 12 years or 325,000 kilometres.

However, he adds that even if the funding were to be announced today, the school district still wouldn't have the buses until March. He says it takes up to a month to tender the build, another month to order the buses from the winning tender, and four months to have the order filled and shipped. The last time the district received buses was two years after they placed their funding request.

"It used to be every year it had to be in by the end of October. For the first few years that I was here, that was how it worked, and then it started getting later and later."

The last he heard, the funding would be announced by Christmas, which means new buses won't be in rotation during the 2011/2012 school year.

Despite their old age, Fitzgerald maintains the buses are still safe and meet the Motor Vehicle Act requirements.

The buses are inspected every 5,000 kilometres, but because of their age, they're likely to be taken out of service for repairs more often. Out of the 54 buses the school district owns, 44 run every day, with 10 as backup. Fitzgerald says there have been days when every working bus has been on the road.

Despite the delays, he says he's confident the district will receive the funding it needs, and has received indication that it's likely. He will continue to keep the buses well maintained, adding the inspector is currently taking a look at each of the buses.

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About Erica Fisher 4010 Articles

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.