CCBOE rolls out new buses

(Front) Cullman County Schools Transportation Director Jeff Harper and Ty Watwood; (Middle) Board Members Gene Sullins and Mike Graves; (Back) Bridget Rodgers and Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette (Tiffany McKoy)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County Schools received the first of its new air-conditioned buses last week. But A/C is not the only feature the district is excited about.

Bus drivers can now communicate in real time with students waiting at bus stops. If a student is about to cross the road to board the bus and the bus driver spots an approaching vehicle, he or she can activate an intercom system to instruct the student to wait, preventing potential accidents.

Cullman County Schools Transportation Director Jeff Harper, talked about the importance of having exterior cameras. These cameras, installed on the buses, serve as deterrents against reckless drivers who disregard buses’ stop signs and flashing lights. In cases where violations occur, footage can be reviewed and used for appropriate action.

Additionally, Harper discussed the installation of destination lights on the buses. These lights, placed at both the front and rear of the buses, provide enhanced visibility, especially during early morning hours or in dimly lit areas. Harper noted that the school board had received reports of people mistaking the buses for garbage trucks, and they are hoping the new lights will be a vital safety feature, ensuring other drivers cannot claim ignorance when a school bus is stopped to pick up or drop off students.

Harper touched upon the advanced features of the buses, including air ride suspension. He said this not only ensures a smoother ride for students, but also prolongs the life of the buses by reducing wear and tear. Additionally, collision avoidance systems have been integrated into the buses, automatically applying brakes when a potential collision is detected.

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette discussed the introduction of propane-powered buses. According to Barnette, while they are acquiring 24 propane buses out of a total of 51 new buses, the decision represents a cautious step into alternative fuel technology. The board believes that propane-powered buses are the future and is taking measures to integrate them into the fleet. The school district has installed refueling stations to accommodate these new buses, which will contribute to cost savings and environmental sustainability.