The first of what is expected to be a brand new fleet of school buses funded by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis was handed over to the Cotton Thomas Comprehensive School on Tuesday, January 29th by Minister of Education Hon Shawn Richards.In remarks to seal the happy occasion for staff, students and bus drivers alike, the Deputy Prime Minister explained that this particular group of children with special needs were chosen as the first recipients of new transportation because they were the most vulnerable.The Minister addressed bus drivers who were present, thanking them for their patience over the years as they have had to work around severe challenges with the old fleet of buses. He added that the Government was looking towards greater efficiency and the utilization of green energy in the future as the fleet expands.“We began pursuing the procurement of two additional buses that would have utilized green energy rather than diesel. It means of course we would have to take the buses to a docking port at the Public Works Department to be recharged on a daily basis,” Minister Richards revealed.Assistant Secretary and Finance Officer in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Melvon Bassue explained the importance of replacing the existing fleet of eight buses. According to Bassue a number of issues hastened the decision including; the constant breakdown of the present buses; high maintenance costs and decrease in fuel efficiency.Mr. Bassue confirmed the intention to continue to increase the fleet. “At least one additional bus can be secured from the 2019 budget. It is the intention of the Ministry of Education to replace all of the buses currently in its existing fleet, starting with this new one and later this year a second bus.”Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Education Ms. Dorothy Warner who has oversight of the school buses stated that she and the team including supervisor of the School Bus Drivers Mr. Alpheus “Ruben” Mulrain were extremely pleased to see the fleet replacement reach this significant milestone.“We are grateful to the Ministries of Education and Finance for purchasing this vehicle to upgrade our fleet as we strengthen our resolve to serve all persons more efficiently.” Ms. Warner stated.Bus Driver for the new bus G539 Winsett “Mr Humble” Christopher was on hand to assist with the cutting of the Ribbon. He disclosed that he was highly emotional due to his passion for the job and gratitude for the new bus. This passion became evident as he disclosed a very rigorous daily bus route that he has been doing for years along with Conductor Skeeta Hodge.“I feel good. I thank the Ministry for it. It’s a little more comfortable because of the long hours driving and sometimes during the day I still have to be taking the kids to skills. Also I have to take them to swimming for Special Olympics,” disclosed Mr. Christopher.Mr. Christopher’s route begins at 7:00 a.m. daily and ends around 6:00 p.m. He does two country runs and two town runs as well as trips within the day to take the children on assignments off the school premises. Additionally he takes them to swim practise on Saturdays.