Hillsborough School Officials Hope New Buses Address Safety Issues

THONOTOSASSA — Hillsborough County school officials Thursday checked out one of the new buses that should hit the road in about two weeks as part of a 10-year plan to replace one of the oldest, and some argue dangerous, fleets in Florida.

Six propane-fueled buses and three diesel buses are the first to arrive.

The district purchased 200 school buses in September to replace the 200 oldest school buses by the start of next school year. The rest of the propane buses purchased are expected to arrive ahead of schedule within the next three weeks and will replace buses used in the urban core of Tampa, said school Superintendent Jeff Eakins.

The school district plans to buy 100 buses every year for the next 10 years to bring the fleet up to date.

The 50 propane buses seat 77. Of the 150 diesel buses purchased, 40 will have seats for 65 students and a lift that can accommodate three wheelchairs, and 110 will have seats for 77 students.

“Ultimately, it is about what we do for our kids every day, and we have a huge footprint across this community with transportation,” Eakins said.

Many of the more than 900 school buses now used to transport about 90,000 students each day are about 20 years old. The 73 buses the school district has sold since last school year have only gone for about $1,200 or $2,200 each.

 

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