On Tuesday the Tennessee Legislature approved a bill that would allow school buses to be used beyond 17 years as long they pass biannual safety inspections. Lawmakers sent HB 107 to Gov. Bill Haslam for final approval.
Current law dictates that buses be retired from service after 17 years or 200,000 miles, whichever comes first.
This bill, sponsored by State Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton) in the House along with State Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston), would permit the use of conventional and Type D school buses until their 18th year of service if they have less than 400,000 recorded miles.
Additionally, through the inspection process, the Commissioner of Safety may approve the use of buses for additional years of service if the vehicle has less than 200,000 recorded miles. If signed, the bill would take effect July 1.
It is expected to save school districts statewide approximately $56 million, according to The Herald-News.
Under the proposal, school buses that are 16 to 18 years of age must be inspected twice a year, while buses that have been in service for 15 years or fewer will still be inspected once a year. The bill provides funding for four additional Department of Safety positions this year and two next year to inspect the buses to ensure student safety.
Travis introduced the House bill Jan. 15, around the same time Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), proposed an alternate bill, SB 1605, which sought to eliminate all mileage and age restrictions for school buses. Like Travis’ measure, it required that local boards of education have their buses inspected once annually for the first 15 years and twice annually after that. But it was different in that it would not increase the Department of Safety personnel for inspections.
“This legislation will save millions of dollars for our local governments over the next several years, ensuring that more money can be spent in our children’s classrooms,” said Rep. Travis. “I am truly thankful to both the Department of Safety and my colleagues in the General Assembly for their support of this bill and I look forward to even more legislation in the future that not only saves money for our local communities, but also helps ensure our children are protected on a daily basis.”