Bond-funded buses help meet growing transportation needs

AISD buses

AISD buses

As the AISD grows – introducing new programs and facilities – so does the need for safe and dependable transportation. The 2014 Bond is helping the district meet that need, providing funds to buy 114 buses over five years to replace aging buses.

The number of students riding AISD buses has been rising in recent years. According to AISD Transportation Director Tim Collins, in just a few years the number of special education riders has risen from 900 to 1,100, while the number of regular education riders has risen from 8,000 to 12,000.

Along with the growing number of student riders, the number of bus routes is also rising.

“It’s new programs that are causing routes to increase,” Collins said. “We service any program the district has.”

Many of the new programs – like the AISD’s two new fine arts and dual language academies and the STEM Academy – are the product of bond projects developed to provide greater opportunities and experiences for AISD students. Coupled with existing programs – like AFJROTC (at Ferguson Education Center), the Class in The Parks (a marketing class at The Parks Mall), archery (at the former Turning Point Elementary building), athletics and many, many more – district programs keep the transportation department consistently busy. And with new bond-funded districtwide facilities still to be built – like the Career and Technical Center, Agricultural Science Center, Fine Arts Center and Athletics Complex – the number of routes and the need for buses will grow significantly in the future.

The bond’s transportation component is intended to ensure the district has safe and reliable buses for all those needs by providing funds to replace aging buses. Over the course of the bond’s five-year implementation program, the AISD is buying 114 new buses – 71 regular and 43 special education. To date, 59 new buses have been ordered and received – 38 regular and 21 special education. The next order – the third year of bond purchases – will include 19 buses – 13 regular and six special education. The new buses help the district keep to a replacement cycle of 10-12 years, or 150,000 miles for special education buses and 180,000-200,000 miles for regular buses.

“Propane is the way we’re going,” said Guy Jones, AISD’s new fleet services manager.

Formerly the fleet manager for the city of North Richland Hills for the last 15 years, Jones explained that the majority of new buses ordered through the bond run on propane. In fact, since the arrival of the new buses ordered last year, the AISD now has more propane buses than diesel for the first time. But diesels still remain an important part of the fleet, especially useful for longer trips.

The AISD is working hard to provide programs and facilities that are world-class and offer students the kind of outstanding educational experiences that prepare them for the future. But it takes dependable transportation to ensure every student can actually participate in those opportunities. Thanks to the 2014 Bond – and the diligence of the AISD transportation employees – the district is meeting those transportation needs.