Get ready for a sweet new ride to East Kootenay schools

B.C. government buys three new shiny buses for School District 5.

Students in the East Kootenay are getting a sweet new ride to school thanks to the B.C. government’s annual fleet renewal program.

The Southeast Kootenay School District 5 will receive three shiny new buses for a total of $405,392. The Rocky Mountain School District 6 will be the recipient of five new buses for a total of $526,582.

The province introduced a fleet program last year which has provided a savings of 10 to 15 per cent across the province. Before the changes, each individual school district would negotiate pricing for new school buses individually. Instead the province now buys all the buses across the province as a fleet. First Nations and Independent schools are able to take advantage of the savings as well when new buses are needed.

The B.C. government estimated that school buses in the province travel over 33 million kilometres a year – about 43 trips to the moon and back.

A total of 125 new buses will arrive in the province’s 37 school districts for a total of 125 new buses. The province spends $90 million on school transportation each year and about 1,200 buses are owned altogether. Contractors supply an additional 600 to the districts. Buses must be replaced after they reach a certain number of kilometres or years in operation.

Not all buses delivered are the same. When needed districts can access wheelchair accessible buses to serve the routes that need them. Newer buses have efficient diesel engines that reduce exhaust particulate emissions by 90 per cent compared to buses manufactured in 1994. Those same diesel engines last longer and produce 30 to 60 per cent better mileage than gasoline-powered engines.

“Renewing our fleet of buses helps to keep students safe and lower our carbon emissions,” said Don McRae, Minister of Education. “By pooling our purchasing power across school districts, we can negotiate better prices and direct those savings into classrooms.”