Athletic Director Scott Carnahan took an 18-hour business trip during Fall Semester to Las Vegas. Instead of coming back with a headache and casino winnings, he powered through the trip in Linfield’s new Wildcat bus.
Carnahan said the bus became a necessary purchase for the athletics department to transport athletes and all their gear to competitions.
In the fall, Linfield created a policy stating it would no longer take more than two 12-passenger vans to any event at any one time, Carnahan said.
“The 24-person capacity at one time dictates that we take a bus, especially for sports with many athletes, like football,” Carnahan said.
The old bus, which is still is use by smaller teams, just wasn’t enough for some of Linfield’s larger teams. The new Cat bus has 510 cubic feet of luggage space. At full capacity, that would be equal to piling luggage about eight feet high in a parking space.
The 10-wheeler seats 57, whereas the old bus accomodated only 46. The new bus has smaller TV screens than the older bus, seven screens total, and has a bathroom, though it hasn’t been used yet, Carnahan said.
The bus was purchased from Northwest Bus Sales and all the Linfield decals were already laminated in place when Carnahan picked it up. Retail price of the bus is $500,000, but Linfield paid only $70,000 for the used bus, Carnahan said.
The Wildcat bus has a 432-horsepower engine, which is about three times the horsepower of a 2008 Ford Focus, and a 245-gallon diesel gas tank. One gallon of diesel gas, at $3.99 means that to fill the tank would cost $977.55. Carnahan said one tank lasts about 1,400 miles.
Not just anyone can drive the bus, and no students have had a chance to get behind the wheel yet. People who want to drive the bus must have a commercial driver’s license.
Many bus drivers are hired school bus drivers, Carnahan said.
On March 27, Carnahan drove the baseball team to Hayward, Calif., to face California State, East Bay.
The 630-mile one-way trip was the longest of any athletic team on the bus so far.
The baseball team went to a San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland Athletics exhibition game during the trip.
When making a wide left turn into the stadium parking lot, an SUV attempted to pass the bus on the left side. The bus, up against the 2,500-pound SUV, left the passenger side doors caved in.
“For the bus part of it, it didn’t feel like much impact,” Carnahan said. “I didn’t know what happened until I saw the SUV.”
The only damage to the bus is a dent and scrapes near the driver’s side front bumper. No citations were given after the accident and further action is up to the insurance companies, Carnahan said.
As for repairs to the Wildcat bus, Carnahan expects them to be minor.
“Places in town help us maintain the bus,” Carnahan said. “It is one of the benefits of being in a smaller town; it’s the relationships you build up.”
Even so, McMinnville does not have a car wash large enough for the new, or old, bus. That task is assigned to work-study students.
Junior Brent Desmond was assigned that task two weeks before break.
“The worst part was sweeping and mopping the inside,” Desmond said. “It was probably like 85 degrees inside that thing, so getting wet outside felt good.”
The whole job takes about two hours with a brush with an extension to get the high parts, Desmond said.