Growing pains evident in MFISD transportation department



By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

Even as the Marble Falls Independent School District added two new buses to its fleet last week, the department is still confronting equipment that is becoming outdated and in need of repair or replacement, according to discussions at the MFISD board of trustees meeting Monday, Sept. 15.

“I’m tickled to death about the new buses,” said George Hamilton, director of transportation. He said that a few routes are nearing their maximum capacity of students.

“Our bus fleet is aging: the fleet drives between 550,000-600,000 miles each year,” he added. The bus fleet has 53 buses that carry between 1,700 and 1,800 students each day, in addition to events and field trips. “We cover 265 square miles a day,” he said.

A new bus costs around $90,000, and buying refurbished buses is not a viable option, Hamilton said.

“There are not many places that refurbish buses,” he said. “Buses do a lot of stopping and starting, and running on dirt roads; they’re pretty worn out.”

Although Hamilton said four buses a year would allow for wear-and-tear as well as growth, MFISD Superintendent Dr. Robert O’Connor said that two or three buses a year was “more realistic.”

For a few years, Hamilton said the district was purchasing four buses a year to get the fleet to “where it needed to be.” In recent years, however, the district has been purchasing two a year. “Without a replacement program, we might get into a situation where we have to suddenly buy 10 buses at once, which would probably require a bond package,” he said. 

For the full story, see Tuesday's Highlander.

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