What could be described as an invaluable resource for any school or college?

Of course there could be many answers to this question. I will offer just one. Opening a statement on school owned minibuses provided by Hampshire Local Authority the Authority said “A safe and reliable minibus can be an invaluable resource for a school or college”.

And I don’t think anyone is going to argue.

Now I mention this, not because there is anything to disagree with nor because the statement is remarkable in any way, but rather because the Authority has chosen to write “safe and reliable” at the very start of the document.

Such an assertion that the minibus must be safe and reliable in order to be an invaluable resource is hardly controversial. No one could possibly think the reverse.

But the fact that the Authority suggests it still needs saying shows that its members are as aware as the rest of us that there are a number of school minibuses in use which are anything but safe and reliable.

The reason for this is not hard to see. Indeed one only has to look at news stories in local papers which mention school minibuses to understand the problem.

The fact is that most school minibuses are purchased after various dedicated parents and supporters of the school have worked hard to raise the money to buy the bus.

And of course nothing can be wrong with such laudable activity! There isn’t anything wrong with fundraising to buy a minibus – until the bus starts showing signs of wear and tear.

But then the problems can really begin, as it would seem embarrassing to the point of heartlessness for the school immediately to start raising money all over again to pay for a major overhaul for the bus.

Indeed even a complete set of new tyres might have to be delayed if there is no money available in the budget.

Sadly, the fact is that many schools that do buy a minibus after a huge amount of hard work by supporters of the school tend to under-estimate the cost of maintaining the bus once it is over a few years old.

They then get to the stage where there is neither the money to pay for the repairs and maintenance needed, nor the funds to buy a new bus.

However there is a way around the issue and that is for the school to lease the bus. In this way the cost of the maintenance of the bus is known week by week, month by month and year by year. These costs can be built into the school’s budget, and so never come as a surprise.

Better still, everyone knows that when the lifespan of the bus comes to an end a new lease can be taken on meaning that as and when it wants to, the school can deal with the issue of the aging bus.

And meanwhile the school’s fundraising efforts can be centred elsewhere on other much needed equipment.

If you would like to know more about our leasing options take a look at our website.

Alternatively call us on 01753 859944 or email us at minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk


Fixing the big problem with having a school minibus

How old is a school minibus?

It is, I admit, a strange question, but ultimately it is a meaningful question. For the fact is that a survey of these vehicles has shown that over half of the school minibuses on the road are over five years old.

That is not to say that a five year old minibus is a problem if it has been fully maintained. But the fact is that all vehicles, as they get older, become less reliable and need more attention.

Additionally after five years or so they cost more to run and take up more time in maintenance.

But there is another fact that needs to be considered. For the survey which revealed the age of the nation’s school minibus fleet also showed that minibuses are increasingly being used for regular journeys to other schools, colleges, swimming pools and the like, as well as occasional visits organised by departments.

Thus some of these buses are now doing many more miles per term than they were doing when they were new.

All of which means that vehicles are not only on average older, but they are also being used more – and this adds to the problem.

Unfortunately the simple solution to this dilemma (buy a new minibus) is often a very difficult option to pursue, as quite often the finance for a new vehicle is no longer available.

However, there is an alternative, which is to lease a minibus. At present around 20% of school minibuses are leased – but the report mentioned above shows that well over half of schools are now considering financing their next minibus via a lease.

What’s more, leasing still allows the school to have the school name and logo on the side of the bus – with a full range of models available.

If you would like to see what models are available, do take a look at our website – www.minibusleasing.co.uk/school-minibus.php

One final bonus: not only does leasing overcome the question of funding, it also offers the opportunity of putting the maintenance with the leasing company – thus ensuring that the bus is fully serviced throughout the year and running at the highest safety standards.

If you would like more information please email us at Minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk or call us on 01753 859 944.


What is the biggest problem a school is likely to face when looking to take on a minibus?

Imagine that one way or another you manage to raise the money to buy a minibus. Maybe a second hand minibus, but still you have bought a minibus.

Wherever that money comes from one thing is almost certain – you won’t be able to go back and ask for that money to be raised again, at least not for quite a long time.

Which is a problem, because even if you buy a new minibus now you’ll probably need a replacement in five years. If it took two years to raise the money this time, then that means you have to broach the subject again in three years.

OK, that is still three years away, but for the people who were involved in fund raising or budget squeezing in order to get you the new minibus three years will seem like no time at all.

“What’s the matter with the one we just bought you?” you’ll be asked, and it is a very hard question to answer.

But the problem is that minibuses over five years old become a bit of a safety risk. Standards change, requirements change, and gradually the vehicle becomes less and less reliable.

However there is a way around this – and that is leasing. With leasing the vehicle is paid for month by month without the school needing to take a big hit financially all in one go.

But this doesn’t mean that the generosity of friends of the school will be by-passed. Far from it, in fact. Because if the PTA or any other organisation is willing to raise money for you, that can be put towards paying the lease.

The vehicle can still be the vehicle provided by the PTA – and the PTA still pays for it. It just means that the method of allocating the money is different.

And you also get the option of having a professional undertake all the standard maintenance and servicing.

This effectively reduces the onus that is put on the person who is nominated in the school’s transport policy to look after the minibus. Indeed, it was to overcome issues and difficulties such as this that we introduced full maintenance as part of our minibus leasing.

Not only do the schools that use our service get a new minibus without having to use current capital to buy it, but they also get our certification that the bus has been checked by qualified engineers.

Given that the majority of school minibuses on the road are over five years old, this approach can be particularly valuable.

If you would like to know more take a look at our website – www.minibusleasing.co.uk/school-minibus.php.

Alternatively email us at Minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk or call us on 01753 859 944.