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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2014 :  09:51:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I saw your pus in a tagged article while researching BB propane units.
It said you were first in Illinois to buy a propane bus and it cost $61,000 after a $25,000 trade in.... in 2011 I think? North Clay?
You now have two propane buses?


quote:
Originally posted by bwest

Fastback, you're funny.

second.flood, I don't know where the 25k came from, hope I didn't give that impression. We traded a 16 year old bus, I think they gave us 2 or 3k for it. A/C is the school board's thing not mine. I would just as soon not have them, the dog gone things are a pain and eat money in maintenance and I told them that.

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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2014 :  10:00:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bryan,
Do you recall what site restrictions there were for the propane fueling station?

Last year we tried to gain approval for our own diesel fueling station and got shot down by our fire department. We are in a city, not rural.
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2294 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2014 :  10:50:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
OK, yeah that was the first unit. Traded a Vt365, lol.

We are in a rural village and they were not concerned with the propane fueling set up. The fire marshal's office had to sign off on it. It was pretty straight forward though, had to follow all electrical codes for explosion proof set up, also had to put a barrier around the tank ( think there is a pic of it on here some palce) we used "mafia blocks" which are very heavy and large portable concrete blocks that weigh over a ton each. One thing you have to keep in mind is that the chances of a leak with a propane tank are less than diesel or gasoline because of the strength of the tank (it is not impossible, nothing is impossible). If there is a leak there is absolutely no long term environmental effect. The problem with a diesel (or gasoline) tank is if you have a leak it soaks into the ground. Now that being said, propane acts as a liquid, especially if there is a large leak, in one important way which is it seeks the lowest point and will flow down streams (on top of water as a vapor) and low areas. There is no fuel that is "fool proof". What we burn as fuel is inherently dangerous, we need to respect it and take precautions to minimize the danger.

Bryan
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Fastback
Top Member

970 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2014 :  1:32:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bwest

Public school, and the amount we spent on the unit is public, but I'm not the one authorized to give that information. I probably give out too much here on occasions anyway. lol



ok just tell us the month they cut the check then

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2014 :  5:23:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The last propane bus cost North Clay $94,000+ via news article.
I don't get it, I paid $75,200 for my last two 72 passenger IC buses with air brakes, air suspension, and Cummins power. I feel pretty good about my decisions in regards to cost effectiveness for my fleet.
Heck, my special needs bus with a lift and options only cost $84,000. I get that bus delivered Monday.
I wish there was a sticky thread here where we could post our bus bid specs and compare. I would love to see ways to improve my bid process.




quote:
Originally posted by Fastback

quote:
Originally posted by bwest

Public school, and the amount we spent on the unit is public, but I'm not the one authorized to give that information. I probably give out too much here on occasions anyway. lol



ok just tell us the month they cut the check then


Edited by - second.flood on 04/23/2014 5:25:24 PM
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Crown
Senior Member

63 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2014 :  8:22:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit Crown's Homepage  Reply with Quote
School districts and pupil transportation contractors aren't the only ones doing some shifting toward propane.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-05/ups-expands-alternative-fuel-fleet-32-with-1-000-propane-trucks.html
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RichBusman
Advanced Member

451 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2014 :  9:22:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Not convinced that propane will be a realistic long term solution in large conventional buses. I've laid out my arguments in the past, so I'm not going to beat a dead horse. But my first hand field experience shows EPA10+ Cummins engines averaging 8+ MPG (another reference: http://blue-bird.com/uploadedFiles/Downloads/SB-FUEL-0612.pdf)and propane full size buses averaging 3-4.5. Fuel prices on propane have not been very attractive as of late, and with no more 50 cent federal kickback it's even more bleak. Last North Carolina contract pricing shows Blue Bird propane around $7,500 over diesel and Thomas propane around $14,000 over diesel upfront (http://www.doa.state.nc.us/PandC/070c.pdf).

As for the article posted here, I heard that district bought Cummins-powered buses this time around.

Time will tell how all of this plays out.

Edited by - RichBusman on 04/23/2014 10:25:26 PM
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2294 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  05:37:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by second.flood

The last propane bus cost North Clay $94,000+ via news article.
I don't get it, I paid $75,200 for my last two 72 passenger IC buses with air brakes, air suspension, and Cummins power. I feel pretty good about my decisions in regards to cost effectiveness for my fleet.
Heck, my special needs bus with a lift and options only cost $84,000. I get that bus delivered Monday.
I wish there was a sticky thread here where we could post our bus bid specs and compare. I would love to see ways to improve my bid process.




quote:
Originally posted by Fastback

quote:
Originally posted by bwest

Public school, and the amount we spent on the unit is public, but I'm not the one authorized to give that information. I probably give out too much here on occasions anyway. lol



ok just tell us the month they cut the check then





The difference in price has to be in the specifications. I know the A/C was over 10k. Forgive my reluctance to speak of these numbers, I'm just a little skittish. I guess, if I'm going to continue to talk numbers, I'm going to have to get them all together. Even at 4.5 (our mpg) & 1.69 propane we are saving on fuel. We are also saving on maintenance as compared to the ICs I have (the older diesels didn't give anywhere near the trouble as the newer ones). I would guess maintenance will get better on the diesels as time goes by but we have to keep in mind the EPA keeps moving the target on these engine manufacturers. So I would guess there is more trouble down the line.

Bryan
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  07:27:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My bus has air brakes, air seat, air door.
White roof, tinted windows, one piece floor.
Electric controlled mirrors, heated.
3 batteries, stainless steel step well.
am/fm/cd with pa and external pa.
Michelin xyz3 all position tires 11x22.5.
100 gallon fuel tank.
10,000 front axle with rear air ride.
Allison 2500pts.
Full acoustical ceiling.
Cummins ISB

A/C $10,000(holy sheet)
And a $7,500 propane markup sounds about right.

I can't get over your board buying propane to "save" yet adding a $10,000 A/C unit.

I get 6 buses to your 5 buses with $19,000 left over.




quote:



The difference in price has to be in the specifications. I know the A/C was over 10k. Forgive my reluctance to speak of these numbers, I'm just a little skittish. I guess, if I'm going to continue to talk numbers, I'm going to have to get them all together. Even at 4.5 (our mpg) & 1.69 propane we are saving on fuel. We are also saving on maintenance as compared to the ICs I have (the older diesels didn't give anywhere near the trouble as the newer ones). I would guess maintenance will get better on the diesels as time goes by but we have to keep in mind the EPA keeps moving the target on these engine manufacturers. So I would guess there is more trouble down the line.


Edited by - second.flood on 04/24/2014 08:54:42 AM
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2294 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  08:52:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, they are going to buy A/C even if we get diesel. Your savings comes after the initial purchase anyway.

Bryan
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  08:57:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yeah, I haven't heard back from BB with a propane quote.

And your comment about the possibility of more stringent EPA regulations...... next I think they will want engines to puff out pure oxygen as exhaust.... like a tree. :)


quote:
Originally posted by bwest

Well, they are going to buy A/C even if we get diesel. Your savings comes after the initial purchase anyway.

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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  09:58:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Looking at the ISIS health report for my two new Cummins/IC buses and the miles per gallon are 11.45 and 11.16 for the 1st 1,000 miles.
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Fastback
Top Member

970 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  11:41:23 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Still trying to wrap my head around $94k for a non diesel conventional bus with hydraulic brakes.....

All I can say is that unless you have at least 2 bidders with an equal shot at earning your business it may be tough to know if you are really getting their best deal.
I wish our state had the state bidding process similar to NC; http://www.doa.state.nc.us/PandC/070c.pdf at least you would be fairly certain that everyone brought their best deal to the table and you could still pick and choose options and brands

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
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bus a groove
Senior Member

70 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  11:58:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This was our quote for Northern California

BlueBird Vision

Base 72 pass = $108,723.33
add propane= $5850.00
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2294 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  12:15:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm sitting standing here working on the A/C system on a 2010 CE200 with the DT. WOW! I had forgotten how loud they are over the winter! How's your hearing? I guess the Cummins is quieter though. lol

On the price guys, it's all in how you look at it. Are you going to spend that on the front end or the back end. If I'm here for another 5-6 years I'm going to be looking to divest these DTs and sooner than that on the VT 365! The amount of money that has been spent on these things (nation wide) has to be astronomical!

Bryan
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2014 :  12:37:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

You need to expend a similar amount of energy getting rid of A/C that you invested in pushing propane.

BB knows that bwest is all in with the propane.... cha-ching!
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2294 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  05:31:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by second.flood


You need to expend a similar amount of energy getting rid of A/C that you invested in pushing propane.

BB knows that bwest is all in with the propane.... cha-ching!


That, my friend, would be an uphill battle. Besides dollars and cents there is no other reason to not get A/C. I think the thought process is that they have A/C in the classroom, A/C in their homes, and A/C in their parent's vehicles so why not on the school bus. A similar argument could be said about seat belts (of which I am opposed) but there are some facts on the other side besides dollars and cents.

Bryan
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Fastback
Top Member

970 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  05:43:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I found it interesting in the NC state bid that the A/C was now included in the bids like duh, who would not want it. You had to scroll down to the bottom basically to find out what the bus would cost without it.
In my location north of Interstate 80, a large school bus with full A/C is very uncommon, even the white roofs are rarely seen around here.

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback

Edited by - Fastback on 04/25/2014 05:54:45 AM
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aaronwilmoth80911
Senior Member

114 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  06:19:45 AM  Show Profile  Visit aaronwilmoth80911's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have been following this discussion for the past few days and I have to say that I am impressed with the amount of knowledge and passion, whether for or against, on this issue. I am going to be writing an essay on using propane vs. diesel for a college course, and this is extremely great information that I have seen here. If there are any links that anyone has on this subject that they would be willing to post so I can get more info, that would be great. Please keep the debate going!!!!
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  06:56:17 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I feel for ya' Bryan. Maybe extrapolate the costs of A/C to a daily cost of actual use.... that should show the cost to be prohibitive.
I can't imagine the expense of the units after in service for 10+ years. It has to far exceed any potential savings from the propane conversion.
We have tinted windows and white roofs and thought that to be an extravagance :)
Here I would imagine a max of about 60 days where A/C could be used, although I am a bit north of you.

quote:
Originally posted by bwest

quote:
Originally posted by second.flood


You need to expend a similar amount of energy getting rid of A/C that you invested in pushing propane.

BB knows that bwest is all in with the propane.... cha-ching!


That, my friend, would be an uphill battle. Besides dollars and cents there is no other reason to not get A/C. I think the thought process is that they have A/C in the classroom, A/C in their homes, and A/C in their parent's vehicles so why not on the school bus. A similar argument could be said about seat belts (of which I am opposed) but there are some facts on the other side besides dollars and cents.

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bus a groove
Senior Member

70 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  08:19:18 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here is a local newspaper story about our school district looking into propane buses.

http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131110/A_NEWS/311100314/-1/A_NEWS04/

quote:
Originally posted by aaronwilmoth80911

I have been following this discussion for the past few days and I have to say that I am impressed with the amount of knowledge and passion, whether for or against, on this issue. I am going to be writing an essay on using propane vs. diesel for a college course, and this is extremely great information that I have seen here. If there are any links that anyone has on this subject that they would be willing to post so I can get more info, that would be great. Please keep the debate going!!!!

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bwest
Administrator

United States
2294 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  10:13:18 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
second.flood, you are trying to tie propane and A/C together, lol. They are not seen that way here, they are two separate issues. I understand where they are coming from and I will leave that discussion up to the people who were elected by my fellow citizens to mind the business of this district. However, I have it in my core (comes from upbringing) to save as much money for the fine people of my community, without sacrificing safety, as I can. Yes, money could be saved by deleting A/C but that discussion is over and I'm moving on.

I promise I will do kind of a cost analysis to compare diesel & propane at some point in the future. I am just really kind of run ragged this time of year and don't have the time to commit to it until later next month. The basics of my argument will be based on daily cost to operate, i.e. oil changes, any repairs, & fuel cost. Furthermore, there is the side benefit of quiet operation, & ease of maintenance that are hard to figure. Although in a large fleet (of which you all know I don't have) the difference in maintenance could mean needing one (or more) less mechanics. All these little things that go on in repair and maintenance of the emissions components of a diesel bus seem like a nuisance, such as a fly on your nose, but they take time. And as the old saying goes, time is money.

Bryan
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  10:31:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm not trying to tie the two together, just trying to reconcile a struggling district paying for an extravagance like A/C on a school bus. Your sales pitch for propane is largely about savings. The rate at which your district is buying buses is lacking. And you just bought a used bus for $94,000.

If I were you I'd be looking for a different job.

I have 34 buses, 9 white fleet, and a backhoe, lawnmowers etc.
One full time mechanic and one 4 hour helper.
Our transportation department has won state awards for efficiency.

I wish we lived closer, be fun to meet for coffee and shoot the $%^&((
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  11:31:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bryan, I am going to be bidding buses soon and plan to write an alternative fuel option into the bid.
I will not be "selling" to my board any one platform over another. I'll leave that to the salesmen.

You and I should compare maintenance costs between your new bus and my new buses over say a two year period.

How do you ensure a competitive bid if you are specifying propane?

Edited by - second.flood on 04/25/2014 11:32:59 AM
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Fastback
Top Member

970 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  11:32:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Just noticed on the NC State bus bid that while the A/C is standard the rear heater is an option
And a quick tally for a 72 passenger propane Bluebird with A/C, radio, vandal locks, and rear heater would go for $90,733 in the Tarheel state, so depending on the options I guess I will now stop being overly shocked by $94k

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback

Edited by - Fastback on 04/25/2014 11:33:30 AM
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Crown
Senior Member

63 Posts

Posted - 04/25/2014 :  5:20:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit Crown's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Here's some links with info, including current U.S. average fuel prices (4/25/14):

Diesel:............$3.91
Gasoline:...........$3.33
Autogas (propane)..$1.99

http://cleanfuelusa.com
http://www.roushcleantech.com/faq/propane-autogas
http://www.blue-bird.com/propane-autogas.aspx#.U1r6oHTn87I
http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/propane.html
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Thomasbus24
Administrator

USA
3317 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2014 :  1:04:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A/C? Wow, you gotta knock some sense into those people!

IMO that extra $10k could be better used to build a heavier bus, made to last the 20 years they expect these days. Heavy tranny and drive line, heavier axles/suspensions, air suspension, full-accoustic to keep your driver sane, LEDs for better visibility...the list goes on!
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2294 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2014 :  06:30:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
second.flood, the last bus is a new unit and yes it would be an interesting conversation. lol A lot of what I am talking about, long term, here is on the educated assumption that the propane bus will continue to be a good performer and require less maintenance. That is an aside to the A/C argument. I do understand what you are saying about total savings with the A/C involved but I don't factor that into my figures because I don't have control over that part of it. Thomasbus24, you don't need the acoustic in a propane bus.

Bryan
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2014 :  06:56:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The acoustic ceiling is not for engine noise, it is for passenger noise. Years ago I drove a gasoline bus with no acoustical ceiling and the passenger noise was deafening.... in '98 I got a new Thomas bus with diesel and our first acoustical ceiling, it was simply amazing.

Do you have air suspension on your buses? Air ride seat? Would you post your specs?

I'm amazed that your school board would interject themselves into the bus bid process, to me that is outside the scope of their responsibility. School board members are supposed to set policy, hire and evaluate the super, oversee collective bargaining etc., NOT micromanage.

I have full autonomy on my bus specifications. There is a finite amount of dollars available for bus purchases and I try to maximize that with smart specs that translates to more new units. Already I'm seeing a trend toward keeping buses longer than 20 years at our current replacement cycle. I certainly wouldn't exacerbate that by inflating the price of my new units by adding unneeded options.






Edited by - second.flood on 04/28/2014 07:28:52 AM
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second.flood
Advanced Member

USA
351 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2014 :  07:13:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Also on the propane front, there is an ever increasing foreign demand for propane and the U.S. is currently exporting more propane than ever before.

https://marketrealist.com/2013/12/soaring-propane-exports-affect-prices/
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eshover
Active Member

35 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2014 :  07:21:49 AM  Show Profile  Visit eshover's Homepage  Reply with Quote
second.flood I agree on the acoustic sealing for passenger noise,we have some older conventionals without it and it's NOISEY

Our bus has air ride suspension and an air ride seat. The driver likes the air ride because of a back issue. All of our All Americans have air ride seats also and they are great.
Ed
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aaronwilmoth80911
Senior Member

114 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2014 :  08:09:24 AM  Show Profile  Visit aaronwilmoth80911's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks for all the great information. This should help make an interesting paper for me to write, and with all the info I've been getting from this thread, I should have no problem meeting the 7-10 requirement. Thanks guys!!!
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Fastback
Top Member

970 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2014 :  08:51:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by second.flood


I'm amazed that your school board would interject themselves into the bus bid process, to me that is outside the scope of their responsibility. School board members are supposed to set policy, hire and evaluate the super, oversee collective bargaining etc., NOT micromanage.



I would think if the school board has the power to say the districts buildings will be air conditioned that they could also mandate that same environment would exist for the students while they are being transported in school vehicles.
Politics as they are, sometimes you just have to let the powers that be have what they want in order to get what you want.

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2294 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2014 :  09:44:23 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fastback

quote:
Originally posted by second.flood


I'm amazed that your school board would interject themselves into the bus bid process, to me that is outside the scope of their responsibility. School board members are supposed to set policy, hire and evaluate the super, oversee collective bargaining etc., NOT micromanage.



I would think if the school board has the power to say the districts buildings will be air conditioned that they could also mandate that same environment would exist for the students while they are being transported in school vehicles.
Politics as they are, sometimes you just have to let the powers that be have what they want in order to get what you want.



You got it!

Bryan
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Thomasbus24
Administrator

USA
3317 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2014 :  10:56:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Unless you are driving an empty bus, you need acoustical!!!!
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