Alternative Fuels

Arizona district adds 61 Blue Bird propane buses to fleet

Posted on June 4, 2013

MESA, Ariz. — Mesa Public Schools has added 61 school buses to its fleet fueled by propane autogas, with a goal of operating the nation’s first all-propane yellow bus fleet.

Mesa Public Schools has purchased 55 Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision 77-passenger school buses and six 42-passenger wheelchair accessible buses to increase its propane bus total to 89. The school district expects to save $4.43 million in operating costs over a five-year period.

“We are fortunate to have bond funds for this purchase,” said Ron Latko, director of transportation for Mesa Public Schools. “But moving forward, the funds for new bus acquisitions will come from the unbelievable fuel savings we experience from our existing propane autogas buses. We are saving 37.7 cents per mile in operating costs; anyone who works with school fleets can appreciate that substantial number.”

Officials said that Mesa Public Schools, which transports more than 20,000 students daily, spent years researching alternative fuels before choosing propane. In addition to cost savings, the alternatively fueled buses will significantly reduce emissions. According to Latko, the fleet will reduce greenhouse gases by 2,789 tons this coming year due to the cleaner burning properties of propane.

Recently recognized as a Clean Air Champion by the state of Arizona, Mesa will make additional purchases to replace aging diesel buses as needed.

“Blue Bird school buses fueled by propane autogas reduce emissions, lower operating costs, decrease noise and make use of an abundant, domestic alternative fuel,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corp. “The Propane-Powered Vision is a smart choice for any school system, and Mesa Public Schools is a leader in affirming that this clean fuel reduces the total cost of ownership.”

The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision is equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system and a Ford 6.8-liter engine. It meets all EPA and California Air Resources Board certifications, and it is customizable for up to 78 passengers.

“These propane autogas buses have surpassed our expectations in how smooth and effortless they run and how easy they are to service,” said Latko, a recipient of the 2012 Green Fleet magazine Sustainable All-Stars Award. “The quality and reliability have been outstanding. We plan to keep coming back for more until we are 100% propane powered.”

Green Fleet magazine, like SCHOOL BUS FLEET, is a publication from Bobit Business Media.

Other news on Mesa Public Schools' experience with propane-powered buses:

Ariz. district sees increased savings with propane buses

Related Topics: alternative fuels, Arizona, Blue Bird Corp., cutting costs, propane

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