Scituate School administrators are hoping a new method of procuring school buses will allow students to travel in newer fleets, without breaking the bank.
According to Paul Donlan, director of business and finance for Scituate Public Schools, the town has contracted to lease three new buses, which will replace three 11- to 13-year-old busses in the fleet.
“We’ve looked at a lot of the numbers,” Donlan said. “For three years, we get a brand new bus that we don’t have to take.”
The busses will be leased at approximately $11,200 each bus each year for a three-year lease. The town has to replace the tires and filters; the leasing company takes care of all other general maintenance.
The three-year total cost will be $102,000, Donlon said. Buying a bus outright would cost from $82,000 to $90,000, he said, which doesn’t include maintenance.
“We did all the finances on this, looked at all the options and decided this was the right way to go,” Donlan said. “We had the money in there to buy one bus, we went back to the town and said we’re looking at leasing three.”
Town meeting approved $95,000 for one bus in 2012. But Donlan said with so many competing costs, such as a middle school feasibility study, it wouldn’t make sense to go back for the town for even more money.
“We had to make a trade-off,” he said.
Though leasing the buses will cost about the same over the long term as owning and maintaining buses, the benefit is the fleet won’t age.
“We originally thought 10 years [was the lifespan of a bus], but we squeezed out 12 and we’re pushing it at 12 years each. So now if we do this, every three years we’re going to get a whole new fleet.”
Of the 17-18 buses currently in use by the school, most are six to seven years old. Three are 12 or 13 years old
The buses being removed will be kept in reserve.
Donlan also noted that after the three-year lease, the town can chose to buy the bus for $50,000.
Scituate follows in the footsteps of communities like Hingham, which leases its fleet of approximately 20 buses.