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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

With the start of another school year, buses roll out to transport 8,400 students daily to Nashua schools

When school buses roll to pick up students for the first day of school Tuesday, there will be some new wheels on the street.

A new $28.4 million, five-year contract with First Student bus company required some older buses to be replaced with new ones. ...

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When school buses roll to pick up students for the first day of school Tuesday, there will be some new wheels on the street.

A new $28.4 million, five-year contract with First Student bus company required some older buses to be replaced with new ones.

But the new buses are more about maintenance than expanding the fleet, said Nashua’s Director of Transportation David Rauseo.

“First Student’s always rolling in some new buses to keep with the contract which has an ‘average age’ requirement,” said Rauseo.

Besides, Rauseo said, there are always changes to the bus services from year to year – some more noticeable than others.

“For the most part, we try to keep the same routes except for special education. The routes were rebuilt because children change programs,” said Rauseo.

For example, the school district is adding another bus run this year to the public charter school, Academy of Science and Design, he said.

All bus stop locations and schedules can be found online at Nashua.edu.

The new contract with First Student, Inc. was one of the drivers in the school department’s $100 million operating budget. For 2014, First Student will be paid $4.6 million to transport Nashua students. The new contract increases the yearly rate to $5.1 million for 2015, with more money to be paid in subsequent years. First Student will be paid a total of $28.4 million for the five-year contract, or an average of $5.7 million a year.

The new contract covers the daily transportation of eligible Nashua students including special education transports. Services include field trips, athletic events and Nashua charter school transportation for city residents.

This year, there are 8,400 riders eligible to take the bus in Nashua, he said.

Eligibility extends to elementary students who live more than a mile from school, and for middle and high school students living more than two miles from school. High school students can purchase bus services for $65 per year, or $32.50 per semester.

Even for those not using district bus services, the city’s public safety officials want to remind drivers to remember proper bus etiquette during their commute. The Nashua Police Department and AMR medics released information and tips on bus safety in a statement Monday.

Drivers approaching buses unloading or loading children are required to stop at least 25 feet from the bus until all children have crossed the street, the flashing red lights on the bus are off, and the stop sign on the side of the bus is pulled down.

On average, 139 people per year have died in school-bus related accidents since 2000, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About 75 percent of those killed were in a vehicle other than the bus. Of the children killed in accidents, two out of three were struck by the bus.

“The Nashua Police Department will actively be patrolling school zones and following school buses in marked and unmarked cars in search of violations,” according to the statement. If convicted, violators face fine from $100-750 for a first offense, and $250-$1000, plus a 30-day license suspension, for subsequent offenses.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Forbes on Twitter (@Telegraph_TinaF).