WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The Williams Unified School District (WUSD) has a new travel bus this school year, after struggling with mechanical issues in the old bus.
The new travel bus is a 2015 model that seats 52 people. It cost $123,037.92 after the trade-in value for the old bus was factored in at $76,500. The new travel bus has reclining seats and an improved window design, according to WUSD Transportation Director Steven Schober.
"When you're on the road for a long time, the stock windows rattle and they're loud and they don't seal correctly. So this is a style of window that is more conducive to a travel type bus," Schober said. "And the seats are just upgraded, they're a little bit better than a school bus standard seat."
The previous travel bus was only a couple of years old, but had broken down a few times with students on board.
"It's just a factory lemon essentially, just a defect," Schober said. "The concept is it's a shame to have to buy a new bus and spend the money on the new bus, but kids' safety is on the line, so unfortunately, that dictates definitely the necessary cost of spending money to go ahead and get that situated."
The district is also working on upgrading some of its backup school buses. At the end of July, the district sold two: a 1988 84-passenger bus for $3,550 and a 2004 84-passenger bus for $14,100.
"Every about 10 years we get rid of buses and then cycle new ones in," Schober said.
The district has since purchased one bus to replace the two recently sold backup buses. The new backup bus is a 2014 model that cost $121,900.
This year is Schober's first year as the district's transportation director. He's worked as a general contractor for 12 years and was working in the water distribution industry before he took the transportation director job. He's lived in Williams for five years with his wife, a teacher at Williams Middle School, and two children.
Schober has already implemented some new safety procedures in terms of bus rules for the students and driver safety. One example is that students in kindergarten, first and second grades will carry bus route identification cards.
"That lets everybody know which bus the child's on and makes sure that they're where they're supposed to be and don't get lost," he said.
In other transportation related news, the district is looking forward to the new bus loop at Williams Elementary-Middle School being completed this month.