Cook-Illinois, which is the seventh largest school bus contractor in the nation, provides transportation service for Berkeley School District. The contractor acquired the buses from Central States Bus Sales.
Cook-Illinois is no stranger to alternative fuels — the company has explored various technologies for the past 30 years.
In the 1970s, Cook-Illinois was one of the first school bus contractors to power school buses with compressed natural gas. In the early ’80s, it reportedly utilized the industry’s first adaptation of propane technology. Today, Cook-Illinois operates biodiesel and hybrid-electric school buses.
“Cook-Illinois is very excited to provide Berkeley School District with environmentally friendly school buses utilizing the industry’s most innovative propane autogas solution provided by Blue Bird,” said John Benish Jr., chief operating officer for Cook-Illinois Corp. “We are thrilled to get back to powering school buses with propane autogas, as it is a safe and efficient source of fuel that is a perfect fit for the yellow school bus industry.”
In a ceremony on Wednesday, dignitaries from the city of Chicago, Berkeley School District, Blue Bird, Central States Bus Sales, the Propane Education and Research Council, AmeriGas, and Chicago Area Clean Cities were in attendance as the keys to the newly delivered buses were presented. The event also offered school buses on display and a fueling demonstration.
“Blue Bird school buses fueled by propane autogas reduce emissions, lower operating costs, decrease noise and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said John Kwapis, chief operating officer of Blue Bird. “The Propane-Powered Vision is a smart choice for any school system, and Cook-Illinois is an emerging leader in this technology for the state of Illinois.”
The 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.
Blue Bird officials said that customers typically save $3,000 to $3,500 on fuel per bus each year due to the lower price of domestically sourced propane autogas compared to diesel or gasoline.
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