Ronan Public Schools Transportation Director Matt Gaut recently brought home a trophy for the traveling teams of Ronan. And while its plush reclining bucket seats (with seat belts) might make it seem a luxury, it was the engine that brought the new bus home.
Gaut says the $259,000 price was a great deal, having researched used buses for months.
“It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t sleep at night until the teams were home,” Gaut said, as there were so many problems with the previous bus.
The new 56-passenger bus has a reliable, fuel-efficient 2012 Cummins Diesel Exhaust Fuel engine that gives Gaut confidence. “We can expect to put a million miles on this.”
“It doesn’t have a clue what it’s doing here,” quipped mechanic Brad Lee. “It spent its whole life as a tour bus in Hawaii.”
When asked how it would handle the snowy mountain roads of Montana, Lee explained they might be testing the newly available “Auto Sock,” a textile alternative to tire chains with which trucking companies are having success. The socks are lightweight, and the ease with which they can be installed may reduce drivers’ exposure time to highway traffic while out of the cab in slick conditions.
Now what the district really needs, says Gaut, is bus drivers and substitute bus drivers with a commercial drivers license (CDL). Anyone interested in a part-time position at $17 an hour can contact the Ronan schools. And you might even get to drive the new bus.