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How Much Does a School Bus REALLY Cost?
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How Much Does a School Bus REALLY Cost?

October 15, 2015

“One-size-fits-all” is NOT a solution. And purchasing new school buses is a major decision because it impacts your school district’s bottom line. We at First Student custom-build our cost models – and services – with the true cost of a school bus in mind.  When purchasing new school buses, many simply look for the best “bang for your buck” during the sale. However, to get the best value for your district, purchase price is only one part of the equation. So, what is the other part of the equation, you ask? We’ll answer that question by first asking you to consider the following questions:

  • How long do you intend to run the bus – 7 years? 12 years? 20 years?
  • How much will it cost to operate the bus next year versus five years from now?

To make the best decision, you must know more than just the purchase price. You must gather insights on the total cost of ownership –  direct and indirect costs associated with operating a school bus over its lifetime.

4 key factors related to total cost of ownership

1. Maintenance Consider the ongoing preventive maintenance and repair costs that can extend the life of the vehicle. Include consideration of these topics:

  • Parts Quality: Quality upfront and replacement components last longer and reduce parts spend over the life of the vehicle.
  • Labor: Streamlined maintenance schedules and smart vehicle design make bus repairs straightforward and quick, thus lowering labor costs.

Through our processes, we maintain a strict preventive maintenance schedule that focuses on the long life of the school bus.

Thanks to these efforts, our shops have a 98% preventive maintenance compliance metric. (April 2017)

We also see a direct correlation between the safety and efficiency of our school buses and how well they’re maintained.

2. Fuel Efficiency Look for proven emissions technology solutions, as well as a quality engines and transmissions, that keep vehicles running efficiently long-term.

3. Warranty Compare standard limited warranties, including duration and vehicle components covered, and the lifetime coverage of replacement parts.

4. Financing Examine various types and sources of available financing (i.e. tax-exempt municipal financing or retail loans/leases), as well as payment term options.

It all boils down to this — if a school bus that appears to be a great bargain needs constant repairs or gets poor mileage, it costs you more in the long-run.

Shopping for a new school bus requires more than looking for the cheapest bargain; consider all the direct and indirect costs associated with the vehicles. That’s how much your school bus REALLY costs.

If you contract your services, but still own your fleet, engage with your contractor on how to get the best value when bus shopping.