by Peter Corbett
The Grandfather Express is rolling in Gladstone, Oregon.
Grandmother Amy Hayes reported on her Facebook page in December that her husband Doug brought home a 14-passenger school bus as a Christmas gift for their grandchildren. He’ll be the bus driver taking them to school each day in this town of 12,000 south of Portland on the Willamette River.
There are 10 Hayes grandkids, with half in school now and two more ready for classes next year, according to the many media outlets that picked up the story. Their private school does not have buses.
Grandmother Hayes said Doug came up with the idea for the Grandfather Express in June on his 59th birthday as a bucket list item.
“I want a bus so I can go around every morning, pick up all the grandkids, and drive them to school before I go to work,” he’d said. “Just a small bus. We’d sing songs, talk, and it would be something unforgettable they did with their grandfather. If money were no object, I’d want a bus.”
Grandfather Hayes found a 1990 GMC Ward school bus that since 2012 had carried wine and brewery tours for a company called Portland Short Bus, said Nicole Pittman, owner of the tour company with her husband Kyle.
The Pittmans bought the bus from a dealer in Boring, Oregon, with close to 200,000 miles on its odometer. They added a stereo, rebuilt the engine in 2014 and only put about 25,000 miles on the bus over seven years of mostly local travel.
The Portland Short Bus did not have seatbelts, but belts have been installed for the Hayes grandchildren.