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BUS REPORT Spring 2011

Kelley's Corner

Dear Readers:

As I talk to school districts and contractors around the country, people tell me they’re operating buses longer than ever before. School districts are strapped for cash and they just can’t afford to replace buses as often as they’d like. That means it is more important than ever to purchase high quality buses that will last as long as they’re needed.

Building quality vehicles has been a Thomas hallmark for a very long time and we know we can meet our customers’ needs, even in these challenging times.

Historically, the average replacement cycle for school buses has been 10 to 12 years, but now those numbers are going up. Today, I expect the cycle is creeping closer to 15 years and 20 years may be more standard in the future. I know of some school districts that already run buses as long as 25 years. And, at a trade show recently, I talked to someone who told me about a driver who had driven the same Thomas bus for 28 years. The school district doesn’t plan to retire the bus until the driver retires!

Buses also are being driven more miles each year. Districts are moving to staggered bell times and consolidated routes to make the most use of their vehicles. Keeping buses on the road longer, running for more miles with less down time demands more from those who maintain the buses as well as from the buses themselves. Dealers and technicians need to know how to take care of those buses. They’ll need to know how to get the parts they need. They’ll be dealing with three or four generations of EPA engine regulations at a time. All of those factors will increase the complexity of maintaining the high quality service Thomas dealers are known for. They’re up to the challenge, and so are we.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of Thomas’ parent company, Daimler AG, and the 95th anniversary of Thomas Built Buses. I feel privileged to be part of a business that’s been around so long, a business that’s still building high quality buses that deliver children safely to school across the country every day.

Best regards,

Kelley S. Platt signature

Kelley S. Platt
President and CEO
Thomas Built Buses