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MichScouter

Troop Bus

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Hello Everyone,

 

I was just wondering if any troops have there own bus? Our troop discuss this as an option one night on a camp out. We decide the liability and maintance cost would probable out weigh the benifit of more scouts being able to go on trips.

 

Just wondering if any troops have there own bus and how it worked out?

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We have a 10 year old 15 seat church van that looks like heck but runs great. The church hates to use it because it looks so shabby so we have little incentive to repaint it. The church has a larger, newer bus that they use.

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Will the bus be pulling a trailer? :)

 

I have heard of church groups with buses, but never a scout troop. It's a pretty costly issue if the bus can't be multi used for other purposes. A church will use the bus for more groups than just the youth group, for example.

 

I'm thinking that the insurance, maintenance, having a CDL driver, etc. are a myriad of issues a troop doesn't want to deal with. If the CO is a church and they have a bus available for use, then that's a different story.

 

You will find that maybe renting high capacity vans might be more economically feasible. But even then high capacity vans may need a CDL driver and the rental agency may not insure for all states you might travel through on a longer trek. I'm thinking that a lot of troops don't have buses because all these considerations for such occasional use just isn't worth the hassle.

 

Stosh

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There are always a couple of troops at summer camp that have their own buses. Troop logo on the side and everything, so they are clearly troop buses. I'm always amazed that they can make this work financially.

 

I talked with a leader from one of the troops. He is a mechanic and does all the repair work on the bus for free. He also had an in with the mechanics at the school district so they were able to get a good bus at a very good price at auction.

 

We would never consider this option. We've never had a trip where we didn't have enough drivers. Perhaps if we regularly were short on transportation and had to come up with options, it might be different.

 

Here is my list of pros and cons.

 

Pros:Don't need to worry about having enough drivers or space.Can take trips with fewer adults without needing to rent a vehicle.Cheaper gas per Scout if bus has more than 10-12 people on itAllows most adults to do trip preparation, talks with Scouts, etc, during travel.Allows all youth to be on the same bus (not sure that this is always a good thing)Buses are very safe, much more than 15 passenger vans.Cons:Repairs. Costs and sucking up leader time. You might be able to recoup the costs if you charge transportation fees similar to what gas costs. Depends a lot on usage (number of trips and number of Scouts)Not useful for trips with a small number of ScoutsThere are some places buses can't go.Have to have drivers who are allowed to operate a bus.Have to have a place to store the bus.Buses tend to be old and prone to breakdowns. A bus breakdown on a trip is a real pain, more than if one driver's car breaks down.I like having cars on trips so that we have more flexibility in dealing with transportation needs (leave early, emergency room visit, supply run, etc)

 

I actually haven't run the numbers. The biggest issue for me would be just the time spent dealing with bus issues. I have enough things to deal with. Maybe if there was one dad who really wanted to take that on as his project, it would be easier to consider.

 

Plus, I just don't like the vibe. Even though it might be useful in some cases, it just screams "car-camping" to me and generally reduces flexibility. Your mileage (literally) may vary.

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As a youth, our Troop had a bus. Several rows were taken out in back to carry the gear. It actually belonged to the CO (church) so we didn't have a lot of the financial responsibilities, but it was our bus. We also a had a Scout Hut for meetings. The Church own several houses on the block.

 

Back to the bus. It was nice to be able to all travel together. Since the bus couldn't get in the tightest spots, we would park in the main parking areas and backpack into the sites. It was an older bus so it didn't have the greatest power. There were times when we had to get out so it could get up a steep hill. And on more than one occasion we had to push it up. We enjoyed that. :)

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I have never looked at the numbers, but I would think it would be cost prohibitive.

 

If the issue is having enough passenger room / cargo space... you can RENT a couple econoline vans and get most of the troop and gear into two vehicles for the weekend at a fraction of the cost of maintaining a bus and keeping both vehicle and driver cert.ed and liscensed.

 

My Troop used to use the church van to haul kids and one parent with a big ol' dual wheeled pickup with wooden side racks to haul all the gear. A whole Troop of 15 kids, plus leaders could go for a weekend in 2 to 3 vehicles.

 

My 2 cents,

 

Dean

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Money pit.

 

Our troop has an extended passenger van.

 

The CO (church) pays insurance, tags. I think the Troop paid for it, but it's in the CO's name.

 

It gets used more than several times a year and almost every campout, so it has value.

 

We have 60 in our Troop, so they are considering another.

 

 

 

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For those of you against the troop bus concept, do your units reimburse drivers for expenses?

I know my unit has the same drivers every camping trip while the majority never drive. If the unit paid for a bus and the cost of running it then everyone shares in the expense.

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RE: Driver reimbursement. Yes, the troop reimburses drivers for gas. We use the honor system. They know how many MPG they get, and the distance. We accept a hand written receipt for their gas.

 

Some don't put in for it, but we encourage them to. Prevents resentment 2-3 years down the road. (like all the nickle and dime stuff leaders are always hit with).

 

We looked into a bus, briefly. One big negative for me is it gives adults and "out" for not helping with the troop.

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As an 11-year school bus driver, and member of a troop that's owned 2 buses in the last 40 years:

 

-You better have more than one CDL licensed driver!

-You need a place to store the bus. (Not MY front yard!)

-Replacement parts are VERY expensive. You can't get 'em at Pep Boys either! (ONE tire can cost $300)

-Filters (fuel, air)must be replaced regularly regardless of mileage. ($$$$!!!)

-A breakdown resulting in a tow could cost hundreds of $$. (AAA ain't gonna help ya!)

 

You're better off renting a bus if you really need one for a longer trip. My troop has the advantage that I can get a bus and all they reimburse for is fuel. (the driver is free! )

 

Overall, I wouldn't recommend it.

 

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