BETHEL — At the Dec. 10 School Board meeting, Transportation/Maintenance Supervisor Ron Deegan presented a transportation report to board members showing that consolidated bus runs in recent years have reduced the use of diesel fuel.

Deegan provided information on miles tracked by each month, information on what years buses were purchased, and costs of the buses. The information was displayed on graphs and charts.

Tracked miles included all sports trips, field trips, late runs and trips to Region 9. There were other destinations that added to the total number of miles driven. Number of hours driven were also logged and shown in Deegan’s presentation.

Charts dating back to the 2009-2010 school year displayed the total bus mileage each year along with the number of gallons of diesel fuel used.

The amount of diesel fuel used has dropped from 36,393 in 2009-2010 to 25,855 in 2017-2018. The amount used dropped each year from 2009, with exception of a small spike in usage in the 2012-2013 school year.

Superintendent Dave Murphy noted the drop off and said that consolidating bus runs helped lower the number.

Director Amy Forbes DeVivo of Bethel wondered if children with a bus ride already exceeding one hour would have an even longer ride if consolidation happened.

Murphy said that those bus runs were already long and that shorter bus routes were the runs that were consolidated.

DeVivo wondered if there was a certain length of time, in terms of how long kids have to sit on the bus.

Murphy said the biggest issue right now is the number of bus drivers the school district has.

Deegan said one driver just got a license, another one recently applied to take a drivers test and another driver is currently going through training.

Electric buses?

Director Sarah DeCato of Bethel asked about the possibility of electric buses. She mentioned that there was a grant opportunity involving the buses a while back. She asked why the school did not consider applying for that grant.

Deegan said he had been in contact with a supervisor from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) who advised him “not to get into it.”

Deegan explained that infrastructure would be an issue, because a place would have to be built where the buses could charge. He also noted that that many of the buses cannot travel as far as the school would hope.

The cost of the batteries are also a major issue according to Deegan, who said the price could be thousands of dollars.

“Do I think it’s the future? I think it is. They got to get a little better in it,” Deegan said. “I think it is coming if they keep working at the technology.”

Deegan also updated the board on the current status of the school’s bus fleet. The school has a total of 26 school bus units, with 22 serviceable bus units. Deegan said the capacity of the 22 units ranges from 24-81.

The average age of the buses was 7.45 years.

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