We need bus drivers
Spring Branch ISD needs bus drivers. Anyone interested in driving a school bus should contact the district’s Transportation Department at 713-365-5250. Starting pay for new drivers is $12.15 per hour. To learn more, visit the Transportation Department.
School bus driver Bill Baker likes his comfy new seat and that “new bus” feel.
SBISD Transportation Director Henry Behne is a fan of all the new safety features and fuel efficiency.
The 4-year-olds at Wildcat Way School for Early Learning can barely see over the high, deeply padded seats, but do shout out approval when Mr. Bill, as he is known, arrives on campus aboard shiny, yellow Bus No. 43.
Baker’s replacement bus is one of 73 new, 71-passenger school buses purchased by SBISD late last fall to take advantage of lower state pricing.
“Yes!!!” the 4-year-olds exclaim in unison when asked if they like their new bus.
Last November, the SBISD Board of Trustees approved spending $5.8 million for the purchase of 85 replacement fleet vehicles, including 12 smaller, 45-passenger buses.
These new buses are one of the first tangible results of voter approval of the district’s recent $597.1 million Bond Plan. The new buses run cleaner, get far better mileage, and have added safety features, including better visibility and added emergency window and roof exits.
For bus driver Bill Baker, rolling along to the Wildcat Way School on a glorious, blue-sky afternoon for his first stop in a brand-new International bus, this moment is both a happy and an exciting one. The dashboard and cockpit of his new bus includes user-friendly instruments and gauges, a push-button door release mounted on the steering wheel, and an easily adjustable, air-cushioned driver’s seat.
“It’s like a new car. It has a ‘new bus’ feel, I guess. It’s exciting and a thrill for me just to know that I’m trusted to drive one of these new buses. For a driver, this is like getting a new office or brand-new furniture and equipment,” he says.
Baker drove an 18-wheel truck for several decades on commercial routes. He joined SBISD’s Transportation Department three years ago after he tired of fishing and related retirement lures. A Spring Branch resident since 1986, one of his four sons, Deshun Baker, coaches football and track at Northbrook High School.
As one of about 225 district bus drivers, Baker transports students to and from the Wildcat Way School and Westchester Academy for International Studies two times a day. More drivers are needed for district routes.
District Transportation Department Director Henry Behne can’t say enough good things about the department’s 85 new buses. His point of view reflects years of “making do” and stretching an aging bus fleet.
In 2005, Behne says, the average age of a bus in the SBISD fleet was 15 years old. Today, the average age in the fleet is down to 5 years old, and the district does not have any bus older than 14 years. The differences are dramatic between old and new.
“These buses are incredible,” Behne says. “They have many more safety features than our other buses had. They are a lot more comfortable to ride in and they are a lot more comfortable for the bus driver and have better visibility.
“There’s more headroom inside. With the tinted windows and with the white roof, the new buses will be more comfortable for the students to ride in, too. We utilized all the bond money allotted and got as many buses as we could.”
One of SBISD’s recently retired buses, a 1982 model, reportedly burned a gallon of diesel every 4 miles. The new buses average 8 or more miles per gallon, not an insignificant savings in fuel efficiency and cost savings. The new buses are not air conditioned. Seat belts are provided for the driver and front-seat passengers in the new models.
For more information, please contact the SBISD Transportation Department at 713-365-5250, or please call the Communications Department at 713-464-1511, ext. 2272.