MORIARTY, N.M. — Three school districts will soon receive the first propane school buses to operate in the state.
In a partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department, Los Lunas Schools, Magdalena Municipal School District, and Moriarty-Edgewood School District have purchased a total of 17 Blue Bird Vision Propane buses, according to a news release from Blue Bird and Roush CleanTech.
The alternative-fuel buses were unveiled at an event held on Tuesday at Mountain View Elementary School, hosted by Moriarty-Edgewood School District. One bus was on display at the event for a fueling demonstration and a ride-along, a spokesperson for Blue Bird and Roush CleanTech told School Bus Fleet.
The school buses, equipped with Roush CleanTech propane fuel systems, will be delivered on Friday and will begin operation at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.
“Our district has had to dip into operational monies to supplement our transportation costs over the last eight years,” said Teresa Salazar, the superintendent of Moriarty-Edgewood School District. “Adopting propane technology will be significantly cheaper in fuel and maintenance costs.”
Propane prices average 50% less than diesel, according to Blue Bird and Roush CleanTech, and the alternative fuel reduces maintenance costs and wear and tear on the engine and components. Additional savings are reportedly available due to the extension of the federal alternative fuel excise credit, which covers propane at 36 cents per U.S. gallon and propane fueling equipment up to $30,000 per property. VW Environmental Mitigation Trust and diesel replacement funds can also help districts with propane bus purchases.
“It is very rewarding to see these New Mexico school districts lead the state toward adopting these near-zero emission propane school buses,” said Mark Terry, Blue Bird’s chief commercial officer.
“Propane buses help districts lower their transportation budget by saving on fuel, fluids, and filters,” said Ryan Zic, vice president of school bus sales for Roush CleanTech. “Districts get all the emission-reducing benefits while also saving costs so that budgets can go to educating students and paying teachers.”
The districts’ propane buses will emit fewer total hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide (NOx), and virtually eliminate particulate matter, according to the school bus manufacturer and fueling system supplier.
The event included a fueling demonstration and a propane school bus ride-along. In addition, school district transportation directors, drivers, and technicians participated in a day-long training session presented by Tillery Bus Sales. The hands-on training included an overview of the propane fuel system, the properties of propane, diagnostics and maintenance, and propane school bus fueling. Driver habits were also discussed.
“Our drivers learned a lot about propane school buses, including their cleaner and quieter ride and quick fueling,” said Bryan Baca, the transportation director for Magdalena Municipal School District. “They were impressed with the benefits and can’t wait to drive them on their routes.”
More than 1.2 million students across the U.S. ride to school in propane buses, making it the fastest-growing nationwide segment of pupil transportation, according to Blue Bird and Roush CleanTech.