NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a move that is being called the largest single conversion to compressed natural gas (CNG) in the nation, North Kansas City School District has purchased 110 CNG school buses from Thomas Built Buses.
The Type C units are Thomas Built’s new Saf-T-Liner C2 CNG school bus, which was officially launched in May.
North Kansas City School District also acquired 14 Thomas Built Minotour Type A school buses to round out its fleet. The district has a total of about 160 buses.
Lon Waterman, director of transportation services, said that the CNG purchase is a key step in converting the district’s entire fleet to the alternative fuel.
“We are excited to be the first school district in the country to incorporate Type C compressed natural gas school buses into our fleet,” Waterman said. “We strongly believe in the benefits of compressed natural gas, and we look forward to running a cleaner, greener, and more cost-effective fleet.”
North Kansas City School District expects to see a reduction of more than 5,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions with the conversion, and an increase in fuel economy from 5.6 mpg with its diesel buses to 8 mpg with the new CNG engines.
North Kansas City School District has been working with Midwest Bus Sales General Manager Scott Kincaid for the conversion. The district’s first CNG school bus purchase was of Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner HDX Type D models in 2010.
“Compressed natural gas has proven to be a promising addition to their fleet, and we are very excited that they have chosen Thomas Built Buses as their bus of choice for their CNG conversion,” Kincaid said.
While some school districts receive grants or subsidies to buy alternative fuel school buses and related equipment, that’s not the case for North Kansas City’s conversion. The overall purchase — including the capital costs for the school buses, infrastructure, and shop improvements — is being financed through Daimler Truck Financial.
The new Saf-T-Liner C2 CNG school bus utilizes the Cummins Westport ISB6.7 G 6.7-liter natural gas engine and an Allison 2000 series transmission. The new bus is CARB certified and exceeds EPA 2013 emissions requirements, according to Thomas Built.
“Today we celebrate the first purchase of the first Type C CNG school bus in the industry,” said Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Thomas Built. “This is a significant event for us and for the school bus industry as a whole.”
Thomas Built introduced its first Type D CNG school bus in 1992. Since then, the OEM has sold more than 2,000 CNG buses.
“Compressed natural gas always has been a popular choice for our customers because it is a lower-priced fuel which burns more cleanly, and we have an abundant fuel supply right here in the U.S.,” Edgerly said. “Now, we can finally offer this alternative fuel to customers who know and love our popular C2.”