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Since You Asked: Old buses phased out by RVTD

A few of the RVTD buses look really old. They look like buses that were running in the '60s and '70s. I'm curious how old are they and how many miles do they have? Then, when do they finally gain entrance to bus heaven somewhere in the mountains of Bolivia?

— Dave P., Medford

The oldest buses in the Rogue Valley Transportation District fleet date to 1980, said operations manager Tim D'Alessandro. The district still has six of the old General Motors coaches from that era and runs three of them on routes each day.

Despite having "a little over a million miles" on each of their logbooks, these buses still run "really well," D'Alessandro said. He credits the original manufacturer and a crack team of mechanics down at the district's bus barn.

While D'Alessandro didn't have any details on a Bolivian bus heaven, he did report that RVTD's classic coaches did retire to this valley from Lane Transit District, where they previously served long and useful lives. RVTD picked them up for $10 each, a fee that covered the transfer paperwork, he said.

The oldies will be phased out as new buses are added to the fleet, which includes a combination of diesel and clean natural gas vehicles. The next oldest buses date from 1991 — there are two that age — and the rest of the fleet sport a model year of 2004 or newer. The newest bus just arrived during the final week of August, and three more new buses — paid for with federal economic stimulus money — will be arriving soon.

D'Alessandro said the district continues to look for grants and other funding that will enable it to upgrade buses one by one and send the oldsters off to the next stage of a bus's natural life cycle — which may or may not be high in the Andes.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.