Alternative Fuels

From 'Great' to 'Green'

Frank Di Giacomo, Publisher
Posted on January 1, 2009
No, that’s not a typo on the cover of this issue.

If you’ve been reading SBF for at least a year, you’re probably familiar with our Great Fleets Across America series.

Hard to believe, but we’ve been recognizing school districts and contractors from all over the nation with the Great Fleets banner since 1999.

This year, we’ve decided to add a twist to the tradition: The feature has been rechristened Green Fleets Across America.

As the name suggests, this special edition focuses on school bus operations’ environmental efforts — emissions-reducing equipment, alternative fuels, anti-idling policies, recycling programs and more.

Noble pursuits
As you read through the profiles of these 10 Green Fleets, you’ll likely see some familiar endeavors, such as retrofitting older buses with diesel particulate filters, using GPS and software to increase route efficiency, or running the fleet on biodiesel. Hopefully, you have some of these types of practices in place at your own operation.

But I think you’ll also be surprised by the more unusual and innovative green efforts that some of these operations have implemented.

For example, did you know that shredded paper can take on a new life in a barn?

At Red Lion Bus Co., one of the part-time school bus drivers is a farmer who takes shredded paper home to his cows and horses for their stalls.

And at Kip’s Bus Service, they use their shredded paper as nesting for their own chickens.

Many paths to green
Going green isn’t a new phenomenon in our industry. Some operations have been powering their buses with cleaner-burning fuels, like propane or CNG, for more than a decade.

Many environmentally friendly practices end up saving money as well. For example, anti-idling policies cut fuel consumption, which reduces emissions and, of course, dollars spent.

Going green is becoming more inevitable. The EPA’s 2007 regulations for new diesel engines mandated a more than 50-percent reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx) and a 90-percent reduction in particulate matter. The engines must also run on ultra-low sulfur diesel, which has no more than 15 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur versus the previous standard of 500 ppm.

With the fast-approaching 2010 requirements, emissions will be brought down even further — to near-zero levels of NOx and particulate matter.

Going green has also become easier with the array of alternative-fuel school bus options from the large bus manufacturers.

IC Bus offers its Hybrid CE school bus, which can be a charge-sustaining or charge-depleting model.

Thomas Built Buses has a forthcoming Hybrid Saf-T-Liner C2 school bus, and it already offers a Saf-T-Liner HDX powered by CNG.

Blue Bird offers its propane Vision school bus, and its All American is available as a CNG model.

And as many in the industry have pointed out, a school bus can replace dozens of cars on the road, which is good for the environment and good for anyone who hates traffic.

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