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Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Public Schools Selects Thomas Built Buses Based on
Lifecycle Costing

"Thomas was the only manufacturer that offered a heavy-duty transit-style bus and was willing to work with us on the options we needed," said Dale Goby, executive director of the Office of Student Transportation, Detroit Public Schools. "We were moving to upgrade our fleet as part of our district turnaround effort, so we met with our fleet maintenance staff and Jim Wilkins of The Wilkins Group to develop specifications for our new buses. We chose the Saf-T-Liner® HD transit bus based on its projected long useful life with fewer maintenance needs, which will allow us to operate with reduced lifecycle costs."

In addition to the Saf-T-Liner® HD buses, Detroit Public Schools also purchased FS-65 conventional school buses for special education applications. The FS-65 conventional school bus is a flat floor model equipped with track seating. This feature offers school bus operators a highly adaptable seating and wheelchair configuration. "This flexibility is what we need to meet the ever changing special education transportation requirements," added Goby.

Detroit officials upgraded many of the components to reduce maintenance on the buses and lower lifecycle costs. Among their choices were such upgrades as aluminum air tanks, stainless steel exhaust systems, Caterpillar 3126E diesel fuel filters, and a Ridewell severe service rear air suspension. Extra accessories include LED-lit stop arms, extra side body turn signals, four-way heated remote controlled mirrors, Bostrom air suspension driver seat with Lord Motion Master control system, and with powder coated wheels.

Fully equipped with the various lifecycle elements spec'd, each new DPS bus cost about $20,000 more than a typical conventional and transit style bus. Is the additional cost worth it?

"I estimate that the net quantitative savings including extending the owning period, reduced driver injuries, reduced fuel costs, to say nothing of the sharply reduced maintenance costs and reduced shop personnel, to be $10 million to $12 million over the coming 15 years," he said.

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