Wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Exeter looks into possible updates for buses

The Exeter school district is preparing for the annual bus inspection and deciding which buses would qualify for the Clean Diesel grant.

Ernest Raney, Exeter superintendent, said generally in the fall, the school sends in its information to the Clean Diesel grant.

“Bus number five and bus number two are 2006 models and qualify for the grant,” Raney said. “Bus number five travels about 2,000 miles a month.”

Raney said bus number two is a route bus, and it burns about a gallon of oil about every 2,000 miles.

“That is not completely abnormal, but it is more than you would want it to do,” Raney said. “Bus number two has 144,000 miles on it, the expectation of a caterpillar diesel engine is fairly rugged and is capable of going a lot of miles.”

According to Raney, the difference is that it is a school bus, so it does a lot of stoping and starting.

“We are just looking to get the most life out of our bus fleet that we can,” Raney said. “The miles aren’t just highway miles, and the stopping and starting is really hard on an engine.”

Raney said bus number four is the only bus in the Exeter fleet that has the diesel particulate filter (DPR), and because of the way that it filters the exhaust, the life span of that emission control is really limited.

“The way that you stretch out the miles with that type of emission control is to have less stopping and starting,” Raney said. “Driving a bus on a route creates a lot of emissions, which stops up the system.

“So, using bus number four as a trip bus rather than a route bus is the way to go for us.”

According to Raney, it will be a cleaner run, and it won’t have black smoke going into the emission system.

“It costs about $4,000 in maintenance repair when we have to replace the DPR,” Raney said. “We last replaced the DPR in bus number four in December 2017, and we have to do that about every three years.”

Raney said with the Clean Diesel grant, districts may get $20,000 for a new bus.

“A new bus right now costs about $80,000,” Raney said. “So,$20,000 off that cost is very significant and a great help.”

According to Raney, when a district gets approved for the Clean Diesel grant, the $20,000 once the recipient is able to show a hole has been drilled in the block of the old bus’ engine, taking that engine off the road.

“Every year the buses get inspected, and Exeter’s buses will be inspected on March 5 at 1 p.m.,” Raney said. “Thomas Brothers Shop, LLC, is our go-to for the maintenance of our buses, and they do a pre-inspection that has resulted in a high score for us.”

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