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The Online Route

Shopping online has become second nature for many consumers, who can buy just about anything from soap to CDs.

Transportation officials with the Fayette County, Ky., public schools have added a new twist: The 33,000-student district auctions off its fleet of retired school buses on eBay, the king of World Wide Web auction sites.

"We were looking for something that would give us greater exposure," said John Kiser, the district's transportation director. Sealed-bid auctions had been the established procedure for selling district school buses, but local response to last year's sale proved so low that the district rejected all bids and decided to explore online possibilities.

The district typically retires 18 to 20 school buses per year, Mr. Kiser said, normally after 12 to 13 years in service. Having buses sitting on district lots when they can still be used by youth camps or churches is pointless, he added.

So far, the online auctions have proved a success. Since it began posting used buses on eBay in 2001, the district has received more than 2,000 hits per auction. The buses are featured weekly, and bids have come in from Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and even London.

Mr. Kiser isn't surprised at the interest, noting that buses are durable and make perfect recreational vehicles. All you need to own a bus is a commercial driver's license with passenger endorsement and, of course, insurance. Mr. Kiser said one bus was recently bought by a family that reportedly converted it into a traveling home.

To date, the district has sold about 10 buses for about $2,500 each. Officials plan to put at least 15 more up for sale in the coming months.

New school buses cost about $52,000. While the online sales don't go very far toward buying new vehicles, Mr. Kiser said that the district is now getting the visibility it needed to move the buses on to new homes.

"It's a matter of recycling these buses into something useful for people, rather than just sitting on our lot," he said.

—Marianne D. Hurst

Vol. 21, Issue 42, Page 3

Published in Print: July 10, 2002, as Take Note

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