The upgrade, said SCCAP Head Start Transportation Coordinator Kathy Potts, was needed. Previously, the program used a 13-year-old 1997 wheelchair accessible bus.
Potts said this bus was incurring five to seven times more maintenance costs than newer models. Additionally, parts were becoming harder to find, as the manufacturer went out of business.
The new bus is a 2010, 27-passenger model equipped with a wheelchair lift and tie downs as well as a “tracked” floor that can secure either a wheelchair or removable seats.
The bus also contains more advanced mirrors and defrosters, as well as lighting and cooling systems.
The most important aspect, Potts said, is how tailored the bus is to the needs of kids. It has a Child Alert System, which tells drivers that all children who have boarded have also departed. Additionally, it has seats specially made for children’s smaller size, which will boost safety.
Potts says this bus will be more cost-effective and help better serve the children using it overall.
“We are very privileged and thankful to have been awarded this grant to purchase a new bus,” she wrote in an e-mail.