MESA, Ariz. — Three months after putting its first propane buses into service, Mesa Public Schools is giving them high marks for their fuel economy and operation.
In November, Mesa took delivery of 21 Blue Bird Propane-Powered Micro Bird Type A school buses. In April, the district will get more propane buses from Blue Bird: six Propane-Powered Vision Type Cs.
Mesa reports that its propane buses are realizing savings of about 25.1 cents per mile, and that their fuel economy has been nearly identical to that of their diesel counterparts. Each bus travels about 15,500 route miles annually and transports more than 18,000 students daily.
Ron Latko, director of transportation and vehicle maintenance for Mesa Public Schools, said that the propane buses are helping the transportation department fulfill its mission to remain fiscally and environmentally responsible.
“Our Propane-Powered Micro Birds have provided us with substantial fuel savings, while providing our students with an environmentally friendly ride,” Latko said. “As diesel and gasoline prices rise, my propane autogas costs have decreased. Currently, Mesa Public Schools is paying $1.31 per gallon of propane.”
Latko noted that the district’s drivers appreciate the powerful and quiet operation of the propane buses.
“To date, we have only experienced one complaint,” he said. “A parent called to report that the new Micro Bird buses are so quiet, they could no longer hear the bus as it was approaching to pick up or drop off their special-needs child. That is a good problem!”
Ferrellgas supplied Mesa with an 18,000-gallon propane tank and infrastructure. The district plans to add a second refueling tank at its auxiliary bus yard.
“Blue Bird is always delighted to hear how our buses are providing districts with safe and viable transportation solutions, while generating significant savings in operating costs,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corp. “For the past five years, districts across North America have been seeing the benefits offered by Blue Bird’s propane-powered school buses, and it’s great to hear that Mesa Public Schools is enjoying these benefits too.”
ROUSH CleanTech manufactures the propane autogas fuel systems for both the Micro Bird and Vision school buses.
"It's great to help school districts achieve their goals of finding an economical, domestic and clean transportation fuel source using ROUSH CleanTech's propane autogas technology,” said Joe Thompson, president of ROUSH CleanTech. “And we're proud to work with Blue Bird to make that happen.”