JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — This school year, KIPP: Jacksonville Schools deployed its first-ever fleet of school buses.
The completely propane-fueled school bus fleet is the first for a U.S. charter school, according to Blue Bird and ROUSH CleanTech.
“As the size of our campus expanded along with the number of students, it was time to have our own means of transportation,” said Bobby Kennedy, founding transportation manager of KIPP: Jacksonville Schools. “We consulted with our Blue Bird dealer, Florida Transportation Systems, on available options, and were impressed by the safe and clean-operating properties of propane-fueled buses.”
The charter school’s 14 Blue Bird Vision Propane buses will help lower its carbon footprint while providing transportation to its students. The buses emit 80% fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons and virtually eliminate particulate matter when compared with diesel, according to Blue Bird and ROUSH CleanTech. The ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel systems are Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certified.
“When compared with other fuel types, propane naturally runs cleaner, making for a more pleasant ride for both KIPP: Jacksonville Schools’ passengers and drivers,” said Brian Carney, executive director of school bus and customer support for ROUSH CleanTech, manufacturer of the buses’ propane fuel system. “It also has noticeably quieter operation and increased maintenance savings overall.”
According to Kennedy, KIPP: Jacksonville Schools’ drivers said that the Ford 6.8L V10 engines in their propane buses are responsive in acceleration. Drivers also reported how quiet the engine is and that the buses do not heat excessively at their feet, compared with diesel models.
“More than 650 school districts across the U.S. and Canada have added our cost-effective, reliable Blue Bird Propane Vision school buses to their fleets, including 10 districts in Florida that operate over 440 propane buses total,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corp. “I congratulate KIPP: Jacksonville Schools for being a leader for other charter schools to explore alternative-fuel use in their school bus fleets.”
KIPP: Jacksonville Schools currently pays about half the cost per gallon for propane compared with the average cost for diesel in the area, and less maintenance is required on the buses, according to Blue Bird and ROUSH CleanTech.
As KIPP: Jacksonville Schools continues its growth, the charter school plans to continue purchasing only propane-fueled buses, the suppliers added.