Start with your list of needs, the things that won’t change. This includes school bus type, capacity, state-mandated specs, and others.
Outline your list of “wants.” What features do you like? Are you interested in state-of-the-art safety innovations such as the PV360® multi-camera, onboard Wi-Fi, stop-arm cameras or electronic stability control? Are you considering the switch to alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas or propane? Do you love diesel but are not sure how to handle your current maintenance headaches?
Ask tough questions. Challenge your dealer, your peers and your own assumptions when reviewing bus specs. Ask your dealer tough questions about the true cost of a feature, the long-term feasibility and the performance, based on your unique needs. The market is full of options, and the tried-and-true may not be what is still best for your fleet.
Pull in your budget. For many districts, initial purchase price is key to spec’ing a bus. In addition to acquisition costs, look at the total cost of ownership of a bus. Many newer components and features have a higher acquisition cost, but end up saving you money throughout the life of your bus. Ask your dealer to do the math, and you may be surprised at what you find out.
Have an open mind. Spec’ing a bus is a strategic endeavor. Consider the costs and benefits of many of the specifications. Your Thomas Built dealer will work one-on-one with you to spec a bus that will be the best fit for you and your district. Surprisingly, many of the “wants” on your list may become a reality.
When you’re ready, give your local dealer a call and start the spec’ing process together.