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BUS REPORT Summer 2012

Kelley's Corner

Dear Readers:

I recently returned from a series of meetings with our dealers and customers across the country. Those conversations provided us with so much valuable information and an overarching insight:

Things are getting better in the school transportation business, but they will never be the same.

The tough economic times we've faced over the past few years have changed who we are and how we do business.

School districts and transportation contractors are beginning to buy buses again, but they're buying more carefully than ever before. It's not surprising that there are varying approaches among school districts but, large or small, across the board, they're drilling down to calculate the cost of operating a bus, as well as the cost of purchasing it.

Over and over, I heard customers say that the total cost of ownership matters as much to them as the original cost of the vehicle. They're buying the most efficient buses and using them more intensively, on more routes and longer routes. They're looking closely at fuel economy. They're asking about the availability and the cost of replacement parts, and about maintenance costs and ease of maintenance.

So, how are we at Thomas Built Buses helping our customers make these important decisions? First, by building the most fuel-efficient buses on the market today. Recent independent, third-party testing of a Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner® C2 against an IC Bus™ CE Series provided evidence that the SCR technology we've chosen is the more cost-effective choice for cost-conscious customers.

And we're helping, too, with our commitment to continuing communication. That's a core value, and it's an essential learning tool for us. We've put more people into the field, at a time when others may be cutting back. There's just no substitute for sitting down face-to-face and talking to each other.

We'll continue to schedule regular meetings with our dealers and customers across the country. We want to hear from you what's going on in different climates, how state specifications are changing, what's happening with your funding, how your needs have evolved.

In this economy, districts and institutions are more challenged than ever before. So we need to do more to help you. You'll see us more often, and we'll be listening.

Best regards,

Kelley S. Platt signature

Kelley S. Platt
President and CEO
Thomas Built Buses