Chandler Unified building $18M school bus depot SanTan Sun News

Chandler Unified building $18M school bus depot

April 25th, 2019 | by SanTan Sun News
Chandler Unified building $18M school bus depot
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By KAYLA RUTLEDGE
Staff Writer

Chandler Unified School District is preparing to begin construction of an $18-million school bus yard north of Ocotillo Road between Arizona Avenue and McQueen Road and complete it by September.

The new facility will feature 16 bus bays, lifts and new servicing equipment. The site will also have a lounge for bus drivers and administrative offices and be centrally located in the district.

Steve Hewitt, director of community education and transportation for CUSD, said the new yard is needed because of the increasing difficulty in maintaining the current bus hub and satellite site because of growth over the last 30 years.

“Currently we deliver over 11,000 students on about 200 general routes each day; we do another 40 on athletic trips and field trips. So, getting to one location is great for us and then our efficiencies can really, really improve by being at one location,” said Hewitt.

The main bus yard, located on Hamilton Road, is far north of a majority of the district’s schools.

An additional pop-up bus service site was created last July across the street from Perry High School after the service station on the school’s lot was forced out to make room for additional parking spaces.

“Every time we open a satellite site you need at least four leadership staff, dispatch, radios, reception and phones and a supervisor to help run the yard. So, every time we open one of those up it costs the district upwards of $200,000 in staff salaries,” said Hewitt.

“The district is going to be able to save a lot more money by centrally locating,” he added.

In addition to saving money, the new bus hub will save the district time – which Hewitt said is the department’s most valuable resource.

Mornings in the transportation department are hectic, Hewitt said.

Buses can break down without warning requiring last-minute mechanic attention, driver’s call in sick and sometimes do not show up, and daily safety inspections on the vehicles are all obstacles that take place before the six am start time.

Hewitt said having one yard will cut morning chaos down.

“Right now we have a mechanic who is transporting bus parts throughout the day from one location to the other, so we lose a mechanic to that. But now they’ll be in the same place,” said Hewitt, adding:

“When we know a route is going to need a sub we can immediately put a mechanic on pre-tripping the bus getting it safety inspected and get a driver on that bus so the students won’t be delayed getting to school.”

When unexpected delays do happen, Hewitt said having the department’s staff housed in one location, “allows us to expedite and solve those customer service problems immediately getting parents, and principals and the community answers.”

With less time being spent to solve customer service and mechanical issues, Hewitt said the department will be able to start looking into the district’s future for transportation.

An app allowing parents to live-track their child’s bus is something he would like to see implemented in the next two to three years, as well as adding wifi to buses to help students with longer trips home to begin their homework on their commute.

“Having all of my supervisors in one location we can divide and conquer a little bit more and actually shift our focus on the technology other districts and other states have brought in to make the experie nce for the kids as safe and as comfortable as possible,” said Hewitt.

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