ABC Transit begins preparing to bus Highlands students | TribLIVE.com
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Brian C. Rittmeyer

ABC Transit is preparing to buy property in Highlands School District now that the company has been awarded the district’s transportation contract for the next five years.

ABC is “currently looking at a number of properties in the district,” company Vice President Todd O’Shell said Wednesday.

The school board voted 7-1 Monday to award the transportation contract to ABC, replacing its longtime provider W.L. Roenigk. That gave ABC the green light to begin work to set up operations in Highlands, O’Shell said.

Roenigk President Sue Roenigk said her company is still considering its legal options.

Buying property for a garage for its vehicles and drivers is among the “myriad of items” that ABC will have to address before starting service in Highlands in August, O’Shell said.

The first day for students is Aug. 29.

“We have a number of items that need to be completed in short order,” he said. “We’ve done this before and we’ve been through the routine of establishing routes and getting ready for the school year, which we will do.”

Until it buys property, O’Shell said ABC will set up a temporary office on leased property on Springhill Road in Harrison. There is already a garage at the location, he said.

When it comes to buying property, O’Shell said their first preference is something with a building that has a garage. They also could work out plans to build on vacant land.

ABC already has garages in Harmar, Etna, Shaler, Millvale and Butler County’s Jackson Township.

Buying the Highlands Support Center in Fawn “has never been discussed,” O’Shell said. The school board is scheduled to vote Monday to close the former elementary school at the end of this school year.

The company has secured its orders for vehicles, which it had on hold or reserve pending the award of the contract. O’Shell could not immediately say how many buses and vans the company would be buying.

ABC also will begin recruiting drivers. It plans to offer signing bonuses of $1,000 for passenger-endorsed drivers and those with CDL licenses, $500 for van drivers and $250 for monitors.

O’Shell said ABC would prefer to keep the drivers currently servicing Highlands with Roenigk.

“Every current Highlands driver will be able to retain their current run,” O’Shell said. “We will offer that to all the Highlands drivers, and we would hope they would want to continue service to the students they are currently servicing.”

O’Shell said some bumps are expected at the start of a new contract, and he said ABC will work closely with Highlands over the first few days to minimize them as much as possible, and then have a review after the first month.

“We’re looking forward to serving the residents and parents and students of the Highlands School District,” O’Shell said. “We’ll be a proud member of the community.”

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