Livonia (Mich.) Public Schools purchased a total of 22 Blue Bird Vision propane school buses using a portion of the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds. - Photo courtesy Roush CleanTech

Livonia (Mich.) Public Schools purchased a total of 22 Blue Bird Vision propane school buses using a portion of the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds.

Photo courtesy Roush CleanTech

Livonia Public Schools has purchased a total of 22 Blue Bird Vision propane school buses using a portion of the state's Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds.

The district was awarded $844,386.40 to purchase the alternative-fuel buses through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE’s) Fuel Transformation Program, according to a news release from Roush CleanTech, the propane systems supplier for Blue Bird. The agency’s Fuel Transformation Program is designed to increase adoption of zero-emission vehicles and equipment, and is supported by the state’s $64.8 million share of VW funds, according to EGLE’s website.

“With our new Blue Bird propane buses, the school district saves money, our students get a safe, quieter bus and our community gets a cleaner environment,” said Rick Martin, fleet garage supervisor for Livonia Public Schools. “We think our Livonia Public Schools parents will be impressed by this big step, and they’ll be interested to know that these propane fuel systems are manufactured right here in Livonia by Roush CleanTech.”

The district turned to propane after dealing with the costly and complex emission systems required on diesel buses, according to Roush CleanTech. The Blue Bird Vision propane buses reportedly do not require any additional emission maintenance and are 75% cleaner than federal emissions standards.

“Reducing air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides is a goal of the Fuel Transformation Program along with increasing the adoption of alternate fuel and zero-emission vehicles,” said Debra Swartz, fuel transportation program manager for EGLE, which serves as the lead agency for the state’s share of VW funds. “Projects, such as [the one at] Livonia Public Schools to replace old diesel school buses with new propane buses aligns perfectly with these goals.”

Livonia Public Schools currently pays $2.08 per gallon for diesel fuel and $1.21 per gallon for propane, according to Roush CleanTech. The district installed a propane fuel station on its property to help manage fuel costs and conveniently refill the buses. The filling station, according to the propane systems supplier, was built at a minimal cost to the school district based upon a contract to purchase propane fuel from AmeriGas.

“With each Blue Bird propane bus, school districts can save thousands of dollars annually on fuel and maintenance — and that’s before any clean-fuel funding that further accelerates savings,” said David Bercik, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bird Corp.

To date, EGLE has provided grants to 69 school districts to replace over 300 school buses, according to Roush CleanTech.

“It’s been rewarding for us to see our hometown school districts operate these economical and clean propane buses,” said Ryan Zic, vice president of school bus sales for Roush CleanTech, who said the buses were purchased through Michigan’s Blue Bird dealer, Holland Bus Company.

As previously reported, there were more than 20,000 propane buses in operation for the first time at schools nationwide at the start of the school year in 2020, according to research from the Propane Education and Research Council.

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