Two school bus manufacturers are offering leeway to their customers on school bus payments during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a press release issued on April 20, IC Bus announced its launch of IC Bus Cares, a program that gives customers the option to defer payments on new vehicle purchases for six months.
Customers have until May 31 to finance purchases through Navistar Capital and not incur payments for up to six months. The press release states that the finance program helps support customers by allowing school districts to purchase new vehicles without tying up short-term cash.
The offer includes current dealer stock inventory or new sold orders of IC Bus CE and RE Series models at IC Bus dealerships that have fully executed dealer agreements with Navistar Capital. The offer is available to well-qualified borrowers and commercial customers.
“Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our customers have not stopped,” said Trish Reed, vice president and general manager for IC Bus. “Many of them are out doing good each day delivering meals to kids in need, using their buses as Wi-Fi hotspots for students to access online learning and picking up course work, and dropping it off at student’s homes. These actions speak volumes about the community that we have in the school bus industry, and through this program we hope to provide support and say thank you to our customers.”
As Greg Jackson, director of transportation and fleet services for JeffCo Public Schools in Colorado, said on a recent School Transportation Nation podcast, school districts might have to purchase more buses once schools return to tradition classroom sessions because of social distancing guidelines during the commutes and resulting route changes. However, many school districts will not have a budget for these additional purchases.
IC Bus Cares also offers IC Bus 360, its one-stop service communication and remote diagnostics platform free of charge until Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, Thomas Built Buses told School Transportation News that it continues to offer highly qualified customers 90-days from the purchase of a new vehicle to start making payments. However, the pandemic has resulted in Thomas Built Buses increasing its flexibility for customers who may need additional support.
A spokesperson for the OEM said it is deferring payments and/or extending contracts whenever possible. The spokesperson advised customers to contact their Thomas Built Bus dealers for more information.
“We are in this together, and Daimler Truck Financial in partnership with Thomas Built Buses is here to do what we can to support bus contractors and school districts,” the spokesperson said.
As STN previously reported, the OEM closed its production plant in High Point, North Carolina on March 23, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. It reopened on April 20, and the company is currently accepting orders for new school buses.
STN reached out to Blue Bird for comment but had not heard back as of this report.