New school buses to roll in Hillsborough County - WRBL

New school buses to roll in Hillsborough County

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Next February, if everything goes as expected, some Hillsborough County students will be riding in brand new buses.

The school board voted Tuesday night to get on board with a plan to spend $11 million to start replacing their aging fleet.

School bus drivers in Hillsborough County complain that buses break down, they're unsafe, and need to be driven off into the sunset.

A consultant hired by the district agrees with some of those charges.

(Related content:  Hillsborough school board to vote on new buses)

So the question for school board members, how do they buy buses with a limited budget?

Two bus makers, Thomas and Blue Bird, were finalists. Blue Bird is sold through a local dealer.  That is a plus for some board members.

“It is a less expensive bus.  It is a safe bus.  It has the features that the bus drivers say are important to them,” said Susan Valdez.

A consultant urged the board to go with Thomas-made buses, which would be here in February.

“We hired a consultant to a job for us and we need, as hard as it may be, we need to trust what the consultant has brought forward,” said Cindy Stuart.

(Related content:  Hillsborough school bus system 'stressed to breaking point')

Board member April Griffin complained, the selection process was flawed.

“This is a huge, huge decision that we're getting ready to make. It started off in a place where there's a lack of trust because the numbers were wrong,” she said.

The final vote was 5 to 2, to pay the Thomas Bus company $11 million for an order of 100 buses.

The board will wait until the end of June or the first of  July, because they have information, the price of the buses may drop.

Also in the works, new training for drivers, mechanics, and new, written rules that spell out expectations and consequences for violations.

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