Q & A about Ritenour Owned and Operated Student Bus Service

  • Q: What does Ritenour Owned and Operated bus service mean?
    A: Ritenour has lease-purchased school buses and hired its own employees to run bus service for Ritenour students.

    Q: Is bus service free for students who qualify to take a bus to and from school?
    A: Yes.

    Q: What does it mean to “lease-purchase” school buses?
    A: Ritenour pays Central States Bus Sales Co. for a five-year or seven-year lease for buses. After that period, the district will own its buses. This spreads out the payments over a longer period instead of paying for them in one large payment. It is similar to a car loan.

    Q: Why did Ritenour decide to own and operate its own student bus service rather than contract out to another company?
    A: In the years leading up to the decision, an increasing number of Ritenour parents and administrators had expressed concerns about the safety and reliability of the transportation of Ritenour students. The decision to own and operate student bus transportation services is the best option that addresses student safety and being good stewards of taxpayer money.

    The district also explored the possibility of sharing school buses and operation costs with two nearby school districts that are similar in size to Ritenour. This option, however, proved to be cost prohibitive.

    Q: How many buses did Ritenour lease-purchase?
    A: Ritenour lease-purchased 28 buses. Of those buses, 15 have a seven-year lease agreement; 13 buses have a five-year lease agreement. After that period, the district will own the buses outright.

    Q: How many routes do Ritenour buses run?
    A: The district will evaluate and adjust the number of routes based on the number of students who qualify and use district transportation. 

    Q: Are the buses that Ritenour lease-purchased used or new?
    A: All buses that Ritenour lease-purchased were brand new and fully equipped with cameras, digital radios with built-in GPS, a child minder system (which ensures that no students are left on the bus after a route is completed) and engine block warmers (to help ensure quick startup during frigid temperatures). One bus also has a wheelchair lift.  Buses accommodate 71-77 students each.

    Q: How long will Ritenour keep the buses in operation?
    A: Based on current mileage estimates, buses should last 10-12 years. 

    Q: Will the district save money by owning and operating buses?
    A: Yes. The district paid First Student approximately $1.8 million for its final year of services. The approximate cost of the district operating its own buses in its first year was $1.8 million. That amount includes lease-purchasing 28 buses, providing salaries, benefits and training of transportation staff (including bus drivers), fuel, maintenance and repairs, and leasing a parking area.  The district estimates it will cost about $9.4 million over five years to own and operate student transportation services.

    Q: How do I know if my student qualifies for bus transportation and what our bus route will be?
    A. A representative from Ritenour’s transportation department will contact eligible families with information prior to the start of school.  To check if your children qualify for bus service, see Board Policy EEA.