City Government

Where Have All The Busses Gone?

The tipster called the GUARDIAN asking slyly, “do you know about the bus Valley Transit gave away to the mechanic?”

That prompted a series of phone calls that got more incredible as the day wore on. A Valley Regional Transit spokesman confirmed that a maintenance manager and a deputy director of the government funded organization indeed made the decision to give away the publicly owned property.

The spokesman identified the bus as one of six 1995 “clean burning natural gas” models that were pulled out of service after two caught fire within a year. He said efforts to sell the fire “exploding buses” to other municipalities were unsuccessful.

He also said that managers determined it would be “too costly” to attempt to salvage parts (presumably seats, wheels, tires, etc.). So, when a staff mechanic employed by the government agency expressed an interest in acquiring a bus to take home, the management people simply gave away the government property. It now resides in the Emmett area.

We talked to numerous government agencies and absolutely NONE of them would dare give away any government property. It is to be disposed of at public auction or traded for new equipment, according to various state and local laws.

We are absolutely astounded that no one at Valley Transit understands the ramifications of giving away government property. The spokesman tried to spin the obvious misdeed as “well intentioned managers” getting rid of old busses. Never mind they were purchased with federal funds and taxes from Boise City among others.

There is no way any police or fire department would just give employees a police car or fire truck that was no longer in service—let along a 45 passenger BUS!

“There was no policy in place at the time–about 8 months ago– with regard to disposal of property, but we instituted a policy to clarify the process shortly after the give away,” said the spokesman.

Of the five remaining buses, he told the GUARDIAN one was scrapped at a junk yard for free and the other four were donated to the Boise Police and Fire Departments, presumably for training.

Here is where it gets even more incredible: We contacted various deputy chiefs and training officers at both the police and fire department and BOTH said they have no knowledge or recollection of getting any bus ever from Valley Transit. Could have happened, but they don’t know about it.

By our math, that leaves four busses unaccounted for. Send any tips to the GUARDIAN.

This should give a lot of confidence to those legislators who being asked to consider a local option tax for transportation.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Nothing, NOTHING, these Jamokes do would surprise me any longer! Now we are talking about ILLEGALLY disposing of public property and the response is ” we didn’t have a policy at the time”?
    The only conclusion that can be reached is that we have some incredibly stupid people running this city and county!! No wonder they are pushing for trains and trolleys! They aren’t intelligent enough to pass a driver’s test!!

  2. As you noted those buses had a tremendous value as a tool for fire and police department training programs. You should go by and take a look at the skeleton of a school bus they have at the Meridian School District’s maintenance yard.

    That poor old bus has been used for training for years. First while still intact for police training then the fire department got a hold of it, torched it and wrenched on it with the jaws of life. It’s still used for training but they had to weld a metal frame over it to keep it safe to enter.

    EDITOR NOTE–Eric, all well and good, but BOISE NEVER GOT THE BUSSES! There are 4 busses unaccounted for.

  3. I don’t want to set any precedent for defending bureaucrats here, but its probably within the realm of possibility that giving an exploding bus away is cheaper than trying to find someone to buy an exploding bus. Or continuing to pay to insure an exploding bus.

  4. I can understand not wanting to use a bus when it could be a crematorium for the passengers. The parts I don’t get are the manufacturer liability issues and the give away deal. Anyone with any exposure to public agencies knows the deal on disposal of public or quasi-public property.

  5. “EDITOR NOTE–Eric, all well and good, but BOISE NEVER GOT THE BUSSES! There are 4 busses unaccounted for.”

    When I said “As you noted those buses had a tremendous value as a tool for fire and police department training programs” you should have noticed I was in complete agreement with you. Those missing buses need to be accounted for and their value reimbursed to the taxpayers even if the value is just for training

  6. So this is the new standard of ethics that the Mayor and City Council promised during the last election? Pretty sad.

  7. will there be consequences?
    I have become convinced that there is no accountability in the government (and those agencies) because there are little to no consequences for those people.

    How do we, the taxpayers, hold them accountable when our elected officials do not see any reason to answer to us, the taxpayers?

    Sure, James, what you say makes sense, but folks need permission or at least leave a paper trail which can be followed so that everyone will know what they are doing. It looks more up and up. After all, there are people sliding out of living in a house… perhaps some of them because they are not able to pay their property taxes on their homes and a bus may look a bit better to live in than under the bridge or in the community house.
    Give the buses away as homes!!

  8. Sounds like they’re setting themselves up for some nice lawsuits if the give-away bus explodes later and cooks a few people.
    Still, if one made it to Emmett without blowing up, I’d like to have the next one they want to give away; it’s make a great storage shed, or a playhouse, or …

    An aside: Re your headline: “Where have all the busses gone?”
    That would be more appropriate in a few days (on Valentine’s Day), since “busses” is the plural of “buss,” which is a synonym for “kiss.”
    The plural of “bus” is “buses.”

    Actually, you got it right once in the body copy, but wrong a few other times (I say after a quick skim of the story).

    Tsk! Tsk! 🙂

    EDITOR NOTE–Gordon, I looked this one up in advance. BOTH are correct, but we don’t have a style book…I will try to settle on the single S version. Did you like the SUBSTANCE of the post?

  9. Rod in SE Boise
    Feb 11, 2009, 2:27 pm

    So, a city bus is now sitting in someones back yard in Emmett? Maybe he is using it as a rental. Bet the neighbors just love that.

  10. I believe I know where they are:

    Call 1-800-Partridge Family or 1-800-“THE WHO”.

  11. Randy Barnack
    Mar 2, 2009, 3:48 pm

    There are two old busses stored at the boise airport fire training facility. They will be used for fire extrication training. There are also old sections of concrete bridge stored there to be used for building collapse rescue training. From a technical rescue perspective having these available for training is invaluable. Please remember there is a back story to everything. It would be nice if people investigated fully and got the true story before forming opinions.

    EDITOR NOTE–Randy, afraid we don’t understand your point. No one questions the value of using the buses for police and fire training. The issue is that public property with legal titles was disposed of without proper transfer of title, sale, etc. Both chiefs agree the management staffs should have been informed of the property acquisition. One of those five buses ended up with a mechanic for the Transit agency. We hope firemen don’t get to take home old fire trucks removed from service.

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