CALGARY, Alberta — School bus contractor Southland Transportation recently added 101 Blue Bird Propane Vision buses to its existing propane autogas fleet.

Southland Transportation is a subsidiary of the largest family-owned pupil transportation provider in Canada, with operations in school, motorcoach and public transportation.

The new Propane Vision buses, which are equipped with the ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system and a Ford 6.8-liter engine, will transport students from the Calgary Board of Education and Medicine Hat (Alberta) School District No. 76.

Southland Transportation first started operating Blue Bird Propane Vision buses in 2007. Officials said that the company’s corporate commitment to the environment can be seen throughout all facets of the organization, from anti-idling initiatives to recycling programs.

The contractor’s environmental policies are also a factor in onsite fuel options: Propane autogas is the only fueling infrastructure that Southland Transportation permits on its properties.

“Our Propane Visions have been a proven performer,” said Tom Jezersek, vice president at Southland Transportation.” Due to the clean operation and straightforward technology, I would estimate that each propane bus annually saves us about $500 in basic maintenance costs. As a former licensed mechanic, I am well-versed to the advantages of propane autogas. These buses are safe, reliable and immediately start in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, without the use of oil pan heaters or block heaters. Our drivers also enjoy the buses, as they are quiet, powerful and come to temperature very quickly.”

The Calgary Board of Education transports more than 3,400 students to 65 area schools utilizing Blue Bird Propane Vision school buses operated by Southland Transportation. The deployment of new propane autogas buses complements the district’s EcoSite initiative, which is aimed at encouraging and recognizing environmental learning with support for education and action programs targeted to reduce the district’s environmental footprint. Officials said that the Propane Vision buses are projected to lower hydrocarbon emissions by 80%.

“The Calgary Board of Education is committed to teaching our students to develop good citizenship behaviors and lifelong environmental habits,” said Ron McArthur, the district’s manager of transportation. “The use of these propane buses supports our commitment to the environment by providing a quieter ride with fewer emissions that is also reliable during the winter.”

Propane’s performance played a part in Medicine Hat School District No. 76’s choice to deploy a dedicated propane fleet, officials said. The district and Southland Transportation transport 2,500 students to 14 schools with 42 Propane Vision buses. When selecting buses for its new fleet, the district specifically required buses powered by propane autogas.

“Both teachers and students have commented about the cleaner air coming from the new Propane Vision school buses,” said Robert Olson, transportation coordinator for Medicine Hat School District No. 76. “We initially considered propane autogas due to the environmental benefits and pleasantly learned about the Propane Vision’s stellar track record with other cold-weather districts. Our new buses provide clean air, a quiet engine and easy fueling.”

Blue Bird President and CEO Phil Horlock said that the company is “delighted that Southland Transportation is expanding its fleet of our industry-leading propane-powered buses as a result of the significant benefits experienced to date with propane.”

Jason Kirkman, general manager of Kirkman Bus Sales, added that “districts and contractors in Alberta are achieving substantial savings and superb operation with Blue Bird’s Propane Vision and Propane Micro Bird.”