(NASHVILLE, TN), April 8, 2014 – The Tennessee General Assembly has approved and sent to the governor legislation to extend the use of school buses, as long as they meet additional inspection requirements. Senate Bill 1966, co-sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) in the Senate and sponsored by Representative Ron Travis (R-Dayton) in the House of Representatives, authorizes the use of conventional and Class D school buses until they have reached their 18th year of service. The Commissioner of Safety, through the inspection process, may approve the use of buses for additional years of service beyond the 18th year, if the bus has less than 200,000 recorded miles.
The legislation is expected save local school districts approximately $56 million.
“This legislation will save millions of dollars for our local governments over the next several years, ensuring that more money can be spent in our children’s classrooms,” said Representative Ron Travis. “I am truly thankful to both the Department of Safety and my colleagues in the General Assembly for their support of this bill and I look forward to even more legislation in the future that not only saves money for our local communities, but also helps ensure our children are protected on a daily basis.”
“This will give our school districts much more flexibility to keep school buses running longer which are mechanically sound,” said Senator Yager. “The bill puts into place additional inspections to ensure that they are in good operating order before the life of that bus can be extended. These diesel engines, if kept in good working order, can last longer than present law allows.”
Currently, school buses in Tennessee are allowed to operate up to 15 years with a 200,000 mile limit, whichever comes first.
Yager said the legislation requires school buses which are 16 to 18 years old to be inspected twice annually. It also allows a bus that reaches the 200,000 mile mark during the academic year to be kept in service until the end of the academic year.
All buses that have been in service for 15 years or less shall be inspected once annually under the proposal. The bill funds four additional Department of Safety positions this year and two next year to inspect the buses to ensure student safety.
“Student safety continues to be our first priority,” added Yager. “We believe that this bill will save our school district money, without compromising safety.”