Big Red Bus gets approval from Town Council

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The Big Red Bus at a town event in North Attleborough. Photo courtesy of North Attleborough Town Hall
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abass@northstarreporter.com

The Big Red Bus, a vehicle used for events for North Attleborough Schools, is ready to hit the roads again.

The North Attleborough Town Council voted 8-0 on Jan. 30 to approve the transfer of $115,000 in Free Cash from Fiscal Year 2023 to purchase a used bus.  The bus will cost $165,000, with $10,000 used to buy a wrap design. The remaining $50,000 will come from a grant secured by State Rep. Adam Scanlon (D-North Attleborough) and State Sen. Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) in May 2022.

The full council vote came after the Finance Subcommittee voted 4-0 on Jan. 26 to approve the transfer.

“The whole price for our bus and our advertising is $165,000. We are only asking for $115,000 in Free Cash,” Town Council Vice President John Simmons said during the meeting. “State Representative Scanlon will help secure a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.”

The Big Red Bus, a modified school bus painted red–with Big Red inscribed on its side–was part of a 30-year program that provided rides to special events around the town of North Attleborough. These events included sports meetups for students of North Attleborough High School or being used as a special attraction for elected officials to ride on and tour the area. In 2017, the last bus fell into disrepair and became inoperable—leading the program to be discontinued.

The new bus is expected to be  smaller compared to its predecessor. It will be used at special events for seniors, veterans, and the Parks and Recreations department.

The advertising campaign will have the bus drive around with a wrap-around featuring the name of the bus and different highlights of the town, such as the downtown area and its historic landmarks.

The idea for an advertising campaign came after Town Manager Michael Borg talked to seniors, veterans and Parks and Recreation Director Steven Carvalho, who all suggested the bus should sponsor a trip to promote different transportation activities.

The return of the bus for many is like the return of an old friend–a friend with four big wheels.

Representative Scanlon remembers riding the bus for swim meets during his school days, and said it was time that the town brought the  program back after a five-year hiatus. He said the bus’s red paint was an homage to the town’s colors of red and white.

“The Big Red Bus represents a symbol of pride in our community,” Scanlon said. “It reflects that we in Big Red Country have a passion for who we are as a town.”

Feeney also expressed his happiness for the return of the bus, saying it was a needed investment for the town.

“I look forward to seeing the Big Red Bus back on the road,” Feeney said. “The need for this investment was conveyed to me prior to our budget debate last year, and it is always a welcome opportunity to be able to allocate additional funds above and beyond regular appropriations.”