Morgan County Schools has a fleet of 36 school buses ranging from the large 78-passenger buses to the smaller special needs buses equipped with wheelchair lifts.
All buses are state inspected annually and MCS mechanics perform a routine maintenance check once a month. This includes checking tires, lubricants, changing the oil, and inspecting all safety aspects on each bus. Buses are retired every 12 years and replaced with new ones.
All bus drivers must have a CDL license with the S endorsement. Morgan County has approximately 45 drivers and substitute drivers. Each of these individuals must complete one day of safety training annually.
In October 2012, Morgan County Schools unveiled three new buses that run on natural gas and propane. Students in Morgan County became the first in the state of Tennessee to ride buses powered not by diesel, but by alternative fuels. Two of the buses are fueled by propane, the other one by natural gas.
After years of planning and researching, The East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition helped the system obtain the new buses. Jonathan Overly, Executive Director of the Coalition, was on hand along with numerous other local, regional, and state dignitaries for the unveiling of the new buses. The buses cost nearly $34,000 more than traditional buses, but the system hopes to save more money in fuel costs so it can recoup the difference in less than five years. Drivers say the new buses are much quieter, enabling them to be more aware of what is going on in the passenger section.
The vision for the future is to purchase more of these fuel efficient buses and to implement a new GPS TransFinder bus routing system. This system will analyze existing bus routes with where students live to recommend more efficient routes and should be operational for the 2013-2014 school year.