PIQUA — Logging more than 269,000 miles per year can put a lot of wear and tear on a vehicle, which is why the Piqua City Schools district tries to replace a couple of buses every year.
“Our buses last about 15 years, so we try to replace two every year,” said Jeremie Hittle, the district’s chief financial officer. “We actually try to stay ahead of that rotation schedule, which keeps our fleet current and safe for our students.”
With that goal in mind, Hittle recently wrote a grant through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to help PCS obtain four new 84-passenger buses.
“We’re replacing four of our oldest buses with clean diesel buses — one was a 1999, another 2000 and the other two were 2001,” Hittle said. “The idea, basically, is to make sure we have more efficient buses on the road, to try to help keep the air clean.”
The grant for $89,368 pays up to 25 percent of the cost to replace the four old buses, and is funded from a federal grant awarded to Ohio EPA under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) and state civil penalties that Ohio EPA collects for pollution violations.
“We’re grateful for this partnership with the EPA,” Hittle said. “The district is getting four buses for the price of three, at a savings of almost $90,000 to the district. It’s another way to bring money back to the community and help us stretch our permanent improvement money.”
The buses will outfitted with GPS tracking and six cameras, including cameras located on the stop signs on the sides of the buses, “so that people who blow by the buses can be seen,” Hittle noted.
The district’s fleet currently consists of 30 buses, 22 of which run on regular routes, driving 1,850 students each day.
“We have to make sure to keep our buses up to code and keeping the kids safe,” Hittle said.
One of the new buses will be shown off during the Downtown Piqua Holiday Parade, which will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.
Where there are buses, there must be drivers. The district currently has about 22-23 drivers, but are always looking for people who have their commercial drivers licenses or are willing to get them, Hittle said.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.