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  • Writer's pictureSean Friel

New buses at schools

Hammonton Board of Education President Sam Mento III stands in front of new buses. (THG/Sean Friel. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—The Hammonton School District recently acquired several new buses for the schools, according to Hammonton Board of Education President Sam Mento III. With these new vehicles, the district hopes to keep children safe, and with the latest technology available on the Integrated Coach (IC) buses. The Gazette spoke with Mento, who discussed some of the features.

Mento explained that these buses are brand new, with the buses manufactured in 2022. The district managed to acquire 15 new vehicles (eight are currently in-hand and seven more due to the district) for the upcoming school year, with a total of 30 buses in circulation.

The buses were acquired with grant money, but Mento said that the school board did not know what to do with the money at first. The money would soon disappear if they didn’t use it, and the new buses were a solution, he said. The buses cost around $100,000 for each vehicle. Mento estimated that approximately $1.7 million was used on the purchase of the fleet of vehicles, and said that the purchase of the vehicles will be extremely beneficial to the students of the district.

“They are fully automatic and climate controlled with factory air conditioning and heat with a powerful air filtration system. These buses are more fuel efficient and have all the latest safety features and equipment,” Mento told The Gazette.

The buses look like what a typical school bus looks like on the outside; yellow finish with a black stripe across, and a white roof. However, the inside of the vehicle is updated from previous vehicles.

With lots of head space, interior lighting, big windows and easy controls, the buses are visually pleasing. The buses even feature automatic transmissions, rather than manual. The safety features of the vehicles however, was the most important factor, according to Mento.

The seats of the vehicle have remained the same, but now seatbelts that go over the chest have been implemented. The traditional belt buckle typically seen on a bus are gone, updated with a new sleek look. These new seatbelts ensure a safer drive to school, with more than just a buckle at the waist. Three students can fit in seats on either side of the bus, allowing for more students on the vehicle.

Mento was excited about one of the features on the vehicle, which he claimed to be a crucial component.

“It’s a very high-quality heating and air conditioning filtration system for COVID,” Mento said, referring to the ventilation system. The system ensures a safer environment for students on their way to school, and was one of the main reasons that the school board suggested updating the buses with the grant.

On top of this, the Leave No Student Behind feature ensures that the driver of the bus has to disable the alarm at the back of the bus, before taking out the keys. This allows for the bus driver to make sure that all students are off the bus, making sure no student is left behind, Mento said. Only when the alarm is disabled can the driver take out the keys and get off the bus.

The IC buses also can hold up to 40-100 gallons of gas, with fuel tanks mounted between the frame and the rear axle.

The only maintenance that needs to be done to the buses are the radios, Mento said. He laughed, explaining not the AM or FM radios, but the radio that is used for communication by the bus driver. Other than the radios, the buses are all set for the students of Hammonton.

“What a win, huh?” Mento laughed, excited about the potential of the vehicles.

The school district plans to implement the new fleet for the 2022-2023 school year.


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