MEDFORD, N.J. — The local school district recently retired a historic school bus — reportedly the first in New Jersey to run on B20 biodiesel.
Medford Township Public Schools bought a Thomas Built conventional bus on an International chassis in October of 1997 and began filling it with the B20 blend (20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent diesel) the next month. More than 13 years later, the bus has logged 190,000 miles, consuming 28,000 gallons of the biofuel.
Joe Biluck, who was fleet manager back then and is now director of operations and technology for the district, told SBF in an interview that running the bus on B20 — which began as a demonstration project in conjunction with the New Jersey Clean Energy Program and the U.S. Department of Energy — has been a long-term success. Beyond reducing emissions and teaching students about renewable energy, the bus has stayed mechanically sound.
“We haven’t seen any negative attributes,” Biluck said. The bus hasn’t had any major engine work, and it still has its original fuel injectors and pump. The pioneering vehicle was retired at the end of June because of New Jersey’s mandatory retirement age for school buses.
Soon after the four-year demonstration project ended in 2001, the Medford Township district decided to run all of its vehicles with diesel engines on biodiesel. The fleet now includes 61 school buses and a variety of other vehicles.
The district and Biluck have received numerous environmental awards for their efforts and have been credited with helping pave the way for increased use of alternative fuels.
“Joe Biluck has helped us immeasurably in creating an environment where alternative fuels are accepted and welcomed,” said Chuck Feinberg, chairman and president of the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition. “He is always there to share his experience and mentor other fleets, which then helps lead to even more positive change.”
Biluck continues to promote the green benefits of running school buses on biodiesel.
“Biodiesel is a significant opportunity to benefit school districts that are looking to lower their environmental impacts,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for a long time.”