Pawhuska Public Schools began using two 77-passenger school buses this week that it took delivery of during the holday break. The purchase of the four-year-old buses, which are newer than many others in the district’s bus fleet, was possible because of public approval last fall of a transportation bond issue.


“We love them. They’re a smooth ride,” said Dean Hix, the Pawhuska district’s transportation director. Hix said that Ross Transportation of Oklahoma City, the dealer, is also bringing a used mini-bus to Pawhuska this week for the district to use at no charge until it receives mini-buses it is purchasing in late February or early March.


Hix said one of the 77-passenger buses has about 32,000 miles on it and the other has about 40,000 miles. Both are still under warranty, he said. Each bus has three years of manufacturer’s warranty left and the dealer added a year of warranty coverage for a total of four years each, he said.


“They’re in mint condition,” Hix said, commenting that routine maintenance and upkeep on the 77-passenger vehicles has been high quality.


One of the two large buses, which has chrome hubcaps, will be a backup activity bus, Hix said, and it was used Monday for a basketball trip to Dewey. These buses should be good for a number of years of service, he said.


The recently delivered buses have been outfitted with two-way radios and GPS units, he said. The buses have electric mirrors that can be adjusted by the touch of a button, and dash cameras that will keep a record of what is going on in front of the bus.


“Everything we buy from now on will have a dash cam, so they can see what our driver is looking at every day,” Hix said.


Another aspect of the challenge of managing school transportation is having enough drivers, and Hix said last week that Pawhuska Public Schools was in the process of arranging for an elementary school teacher with a Commercial Driver’s License to serve as a substitute route driver.