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Manteca replacing four aging buses

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POSTED December 23, 2009 2:58 a.m.
Manteca Unified will be adding smaller buses.

The plan calls for the district to replace four large but aging buses with four smaller ones. According to Jason Osborn, director of transportation, these new buses will be 100 percent funded under the state’s Proposition 1B.

Voters approved the bond act several years ago, authorizing $200 million for replacing and retrofitting school buses. Manteca Unified’s four buses are 30 years or older, thus, qualifying for replacement under the lower-emission school bus program, Osborn noted.

Ridership, meanwhile, has been down since the implementation of the “no bus zone.”

The “no bus zone” is the radius of 1.25 miles from the campus for kindergarten- through eighth-grade students, and 2.5 miles for ninth- through 12th-grade students. The plan was put in place as part of the budget cuts for the 2009-10 school year.

The results have been 15 fewer bus routes and home-to-school transportation for some 1,700 general education students. All told, the district uses 22 buses – 21 large and one small – to handle this service.

“Most of the stops that were eliminated were in town and (were) large capacity stops,” Osborn said at the recent school board meeting. “The remaining stops were generally in rural areas, serving single or small groups of homes.”

During his report on bus utilization, he indicated that most rural stops usually consist of one to five students, with time and distance limiting the number of stops made.

Manteca Unified also did away with school transportation service of First Student, handling the job in-house with 21 small buses and one van to accommodate those in special education.

As for general education, the district has 17 buses going to the high schools. Included is about 38 percent occupancy in the mornings and 53 percent in the afternoon.

Manteca Unified has 21 buses going elementary sites on Tier 1 (start time is 8:30 a.m.) with over 48 percent of the bus occupied in the morning and 53 percent in the afternoon. Tier 2 (start time is 9 o’clock) consists of two buses and 40 percent occupancy in the morning and 59 percent in the afternoon.

Osborn said his staff observed the routes annually while making the appropriate adjustments prior to bidding for the next school year.

He noted that the 2009-10 has been an unusual year, especially with the deep cuts to home-to-school transportation for general education students and the addition of services for special education students.

“The continued growth in special education transportation has stretched our special education fleet,” Osborn said.

He added, “There will be adjustments to come next year.”

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