Plainview ISD Builds Student Transportation Options Despite Supply Chain Challenges

It was difficult to find a charter bus service to serve Plainview ISD.

Becca Dunlap, purchasing manager for the district, told school board members Thursday night that bus drivers are in short supply. It’s not that they don’t want to serve the district. They just don’t have the resources.

Many charter bus service providers have reduced their fleets during the COVID-19 pandemic and they have not quite recovered.

Dunlap spent a lot of time crunching the numbers and developing a comprehensive schedule for the upcoming school year to organize a financially viable plan for transporting students to and from extracurricular events like sports competitions and group trips, to name a few.

The school board unanimously approved a split offer of $396,701.20 between three different charter bus companies, including: All Aboard America! Out of Odessa for $75,214.80; Sun Travel from El Paso for $112,080; and Kincaid Coach of Oklahoma for $209,406.40.

She divided services by position, Dunlap said. For example, Kincaid Coach is ready to take the football team to Pampa the first week of September, then All Aboard! Will take the team to their games for the rest of the month.

The biggest challenge, she said, was finding a service to take care of the group. The group is expected to travel with six charter buses for each trip next year.

“Nobody would suggest a band,” Dunlap told the board.

The shortage of drivers is the main reason given to him. The group often goes to a game on a Friday night, then turns around for a first group contest the next day. By law, drivers must sleep at least eight hours between trips. Most charter services are discouraged by this kind of request.

Dunlap was able to obtain it and recommended that the prices be blocked. The board approved the article unanimously.

Following this article, the council unanimously decided to approve the purchase of a van for the transportation of the students.

Initially, the district requested bids to purchase suburban and 12-passenger vans. These vehicles are particularly useful for trips with considerably smaller groups of students. The district received no response to this request.

Supply chain issues were to blame, Superintendent HT Sanchez said.

“The suburbs are in such demand,” he said.

Suburbans in the district’s current fleet are still on the road. They return from one trip with just enough time to be cleaned up and prepared for the next one, so the district was hoping to add another, he added, illustrating the need for another vehicle.

Although the district did not get the bids it wanted for a commuter, one bid was filed for a van.

The council approved the purchase of a van with towing capacity from Plainview Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge. The cost of the vehicle is $46,198.

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