Alternative Fuels

Ariz. district sees increased savings with propane buses

Posted on May 9, 2012

PHOENIX — Mesa Public Schools continues to see benefits from running buses on propane, the most recent of which is a savings of 32.6 cents per mile, according to a case study from Blue Bird Corp. and ROUSH CleanTech.

SBF reported in February that the district was realizing a savings of about 25.1 cents per mile with its Blue Bird Propane-Powered Micro Bird Type A school buses. The district also reported that the buses’ fuel economy has been nearly identical to that of their diesel counterparts.

The district’s fleet now includes 21 Blue Bird Propane-Powered Micro Bird Type A school buses as well as six Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision Type C school buses. The case study not only reports on the new savings-per-mile figure, it indicates that Mesa Public Schools is seeing $5,667 in fuel savings per bus annually and 60% fuel savings per gallon when compared to diesel-powered buses.

Changes in federal emissions regulations first prompted Mesa school officials to consider alternatives to diesel in their fleet.

After it was arranged for a propane bus to be test driven by the district’s technicians, Ron Latko, director of transportation and vehicle maintenance for Mesa Public Schools, and his team developed a savings calculator to see if making the switch to propane was affordable. The team discovered that the $2.06 per gallon fuel savings would total $61,130 per year, and with lower maintenance costs and the potential for longer engine life, Latko estimated an additional $4,000 savings over the lifetime of the bus.

“I’m conservative when I run numbers, and the savings were amazing,” he said. “Not only with fuel and maintenance, but the initial upfront costs were also considerably cheaper than comparable diesel-powered buses would have been. We’re saving a total of 32.6 cents per mile with propane autogas.”

“Blue Bird has been producing propane-fueled school buses since 2002,” added Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “Our Propane-Powered Micro Bird and all-new Propane-Powered Vision, launched just a couple of months ago, set new standards in quality, reliability and innovation. Propane technology is green, safe and proven — and provides substantial savings in fuel costs, year after year.”      

Mesa Public Schools is interested in purchasing propane-powered vehicles for its white fleet as well. With a Ford ROUSH CleanTech F-250 propane pickup truck on order, the district plans to purchase more in the future.  

To read the case study in full, click here.

Related Topics: Blue Bird Corp., propane

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