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Catholic school board approves bus purchases

Average age of buses in the division’s fleet is 15 years old and in some need of upgrade, says RDCRS official

INNISFAIL - Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) trustees have approved the purchase of five 2023 Blue Bird 77 passenger propane school buses for approximately $620,000.

The approval came during the board’s recent regularly scheduled meeting.

In a report to the board, secretary-treasurer Rod Steeves said the average age of buses in the division’s fleet is 15 years old and in some need of upgrade.

“We must begin to upgrade our fleet in order to ensure we have several dependable buses for the future,” said Steeves. 

The decision to purchase propane-powered vehicles was based on research indicating the buses are dependable and economic, he said.

Specifically, he said research indicates the propane vehicles are a good choice for a number of reasons, including the following:

• Maintenance costs are less than the diesel motor. “Our transportation department will be authorized to complete warranty work as well,” he said.

• The fuel mileage has improved (over earlier models). These units can be used on charter trips to Edmonton and Calgary with no concern on refuelling locations.

• The units have some desirable driver comforts. “The average age of our bus drivers is 54 years. These units are equipped with air ride seats, power door opening, foot activated e-brake and a warm cabin (that) will make the drive twice daily much easier,” he said.

• Propane is a much cleaner burning fuel and therefore is not as harsh for the environment.

“This purchase will be $620,000 and there will likely be an additional $100,000 in used purchases assuming we find some good used buses,” he said. “I would like to ask the board to approve this purchase in order to reduce the age of our fleet and have five dependable buses in cold weather.”

Trustees approved the purchase request. RDCRS division includes schools in Olds and Innisfail.

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