Livingston board moves to replace 20 percent of bus fleet

The Livingston Parish School Board doubled its bus budget Thursday to allow the transportation director to replace a fifth of the oldest segment of the district’s fleet.

Of the 256 school buses
on the road in Livingston Parish, 156 are 15 years old or older and, after inspection, 33 were recommended to be pulled off the line, Transportation Director Steve Vampran said.

Vampran asked for School Board approval to purchase 30 route buses, most only 7 years old mixed in with a few 8- or 9-year-old buses, for an estimated purchase price of $29,500 each and four handicap-accessible buses for $24,000 to $28,000 each.

The total purchase price, which could run nearly
$1 million, effectively doubles the district’s $500,000 budget for bus purchases for 2013-14.

The market price for used buses has increased dramatically in recent years, as more districts buy them to save money and supply dwindles, Vampran said.

But with an aging fleet comes more breakdowns and maintenance costs, and the district cannot afford to delay replacing some of its older buses, he said.

The board voted 8-1 to give Vampran a $1 million budget to buy “at least” 30 route buses and four handicap-accessible buses.

Board member Malcolm Sibley voted against, saying after the meeting that the district is likely facing a deficit for 2013-14 and should
do more research on lease-purchase options before committing to the additional expense.