Wilkinson: Yellow Bus Meshugas
I live in a town of around 8,000 people. Yesterday afternoon, I happened to be driving to the gym at the same time as middle school let out. Some shop teacher stopped traffic while four dozen hulking Bluebirds (company owned by Cerberus BTW) poured out of the school's driveway, each of them carrying perhaps FIVE KIDS. The noise and pollution and tsuris was the equivalent of a thousand-plane raid on Hamburg. Meanwhile, the same thing was happening at the high school and elementary school. Our town must put 150 dieseling buses out onto the road every afternoon, assuring that no tyke will have to spend more than 15 minutes en route. To say nothing of the traffic backup behind each yellow monster while they disgorge their cute little backpackers. I'm the treasurer of our local volunteer ambulance corps. I'm always amused by how municipal-supplier vendors work everything out to round numbers. "You want some EMS unifoms? How's $10k sound?" "You want a fleet of school buses to pick up your kids? That'll be $10m a year." (If you want to get rich quick, contract with municipalities: nobody gives a shit what you charge.) I'm going to take this up with the school board, but the spectacle of this Eighth Air Force-size fleet of big yellow smoke-spewers thundering north, south, east and west just stunned me.
More importantly, why is the exhaust pipe on these things at ground level?
Several weeks ago a bus was hit broad side killing 4 students. The driver was a 23 year old illegal imigrant . She ran the stop sign at a T intersection!! She was driving a van, and suffered just a broken leg.
I suspect that a medium duty truck chassis is much cheaper to buy and repair than a specialized city bus platform. A specialized bus frame and body is a complex and expensive thing to design and build, and not sold in anything close to medium duty truck volumes. While municipalities can and often do pay a premium for quality buses, most school districts lack that kind of money and have other under funded priorities that supersede buses in their budgets.