Why are so many school minibuses so old?

The answer is, because they are purchased, not leased.

Now let me explain this a little further.  Leased minibuses can be traded in when the lease comes to an end.  So it is relatively easy to move on to the next lease, which obviously avoids the issue of thinking about how one might obtain a large amount of cash to buy the next bus.

But schools which buy minibuses can run into even greater difficulties than this.

Imagine this very common scenario.  The school decides that a minibus would be helpful, and for four years the PTA, ably and willingly supported by the staff of the school, work to raise money through everything from sponsored events to huge car boot sales.

Eventually after four or five years the money has been gathered.  Any short fall (which can occur because of the rise in the cost of vehicles during the fund raising period) is made up by the school, or through one final appeal, and then the bus is purchased.  Everyone is happy.

Now it would be quite inappropriate (and indeed probably doomed to failure) if the school started its collection and money raising process again for the next bus, the following year.  But in fact if the newly purchased minibus is not going to be run into the ground, this is what is needed.

In effect fund raising for the next minibus generally doesn’t start until the bus actually needs replacing – when it is about five years old.   But it takes five more years to raise the funds, and so that opens the door to the school spending a fortune trying to maintain a ten year old bus on the road, at the end of the period.

Further, most schools find that it is incredibly difficult to raise money for a replacement, as opposed to raising money for something that is new.   “Raising money for a minibus?” asks the put-upon parent.  “I thought you already had one…”

Such a questioning raises doubts, and these open up the realisation that by the time the next bus is purchased that parent’s children will have left the school.

So the problems mount, and in the end most schools realise that buying the second minibus is much, much harder than buying the first – and that was tough enough.

Which is why leasing is becoming ever more popular as a way of getting a replacement minibus.  Buying another new one is, for many schools, just not a viable option.  Handing back the old bus and leasing a new one is a lot, lot easier.

You can find more information on our leasing options on our website.

Alternatively, please do call us on 01753 859944 or email us at minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk for more information.

Finding ways of letting everyone who is interested in the school know what the school is up to, is highly beneficial to everyone in the school.

Of course just about the most important point about leasing a school minibus is to ensure that the monthly payments are met, that the bus is serviced and repaired as need be, and that parents and other interested parties know all about how it is being used. 

Now it is worth stressing “leasing” here because by and large schools that buy their own minibus do so with donations from parents so everyone will be aware that the school has got a minibus.

But leasing – a much more balanced and efficient funding system – does have one draw back.  It doesn’t require this fundraising work, and so the awareness that the bus has been acquired by the school is often missing.

Yes, telling everyone in the school that the school has a minibus (or indeed a second minibus) is vital if pride in the school is to be increased and awareness of what the school is doing is to be enhanced.

This can be done in several ways.

First through putting a note at the end of the weekly email to parents about school life, giving a list of all the places and events that the bus has been used to take pupils and students to.

Second there can be an accumulated half termly list put on the school web site.

And finally – perhaps most interestingly but also most often missed – there can be a school blog which records each outing and event from the point of view of those who went.

The blog is something that should be written by one or more pupils or students who travelled on the bus for a particular event – with the duty of writing the blog circulating among those on the trip.  Not only does this build up into a complete record, from the students’ point of view, of the use of the bus, it is also an excellent exercise in reportage writing. 

Indeed students can be encouraged to make their report more interesting than the one before, whilst staying within the bounds of reality and good taste!

The point about blogs is that their readership can become very large and as long as the pieces are positive then they will become an ever more important way of spreading the word about what the school is doing.

Thus it is important that the blog should have a link at the end of each article back to the school’s website, and to ways of getting in touch with the school.