New school buses ready to roll in Southampton

Published 11:26 am Friday, November 22, 2013

COURTLAND—By Monday, numerous students in Southampton County Public Schools will get to enjoy several new buses designed for their safety. Meanwhile, the drivers have been in training.

Late last week, the school board and board of supervisors took possession of four of the five Thomas-built buses that were made by Sonny Merryman Inc.; the fifth was still on the assembly line, and is expected this week.

Michael Wirt, eastern regional sales manager, was present to point out and explain many features of the new buses.

Each bus holds 65 passengers, has a 15-year lifespan, and will get 10 to 11 miles per gallon, almost double what the other vehicles achieve.

The seats are compartmentalized to protect students in case of accidents.

A large windshield and slanted hood better enables the driver to see students crossing in front.

The engines are emission compliant.

White tops on the buses make for a 12-degree difference in temperature.

The windows are tinted, also making a better ride for the children and drivers.

A child reminder system has been installed in each vehicle. The drivers have to check the buses from front to back and hit a button that signals all students have left the vehicles.

A camera is placed in the front and back, and there’s space for a total of eight cameras.

“I can sleep at night,” said Ricky Blunt, director of auxiliary services for the school system.

Each bus costs $82,000, said Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish. She added that as money becomes available, more buses will be purchased.