Virginia school district purchases Blue Bird’s 15,000th autogas bus

November 5, 2019 By    

Newport News Public Schools added 18 propane-powered Blue Bird school buses to its fleet, marking the delivery of Blue Bird Corp.’s 15,000th propane bus.

Newport News Public Schools operates a fleet of 335 buses, with 62 fueled by propane, Roush CleanTech says. The school district has operated propane buses for two years and will add 11 more by the end of 2019.

“We continue to replace our school district’s aging diesel buses with propane,” says Shay Coates, transportation director of Newport News Public Schools. “Propane not only reduces emissions but also saves our district thousands of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs each year.”

Use of propane school buses by school districts and school bus contractors has increased 800 percent in the past seven years, the Propane Education & Research Council says.

“The Newport News school district is joining hundreds of other school systems across the country that choose clean-operating and economical propane,” says Mark Terry, chief commercial officer of Blue Bird. “They want to save money, benefit the environment and simplify maintenance. Propane’s reputation as economical, safe and environmentally friendly is growing quickly.”

Brian Hanna, the maintenance manager for Newport News Public Schools, says the school district saved $800 on oil changes alone with each of the propane buses compared to the diesel buses. Additionally, he says propane costs about 80 cents less per gallon.

The Ford engine with a Roush CleanTech propane fuel system used to equip the Blue Bird Vision Propane bus is, on average, 65 percent lower emitting than the current emissions standards of the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board, Roush CleanTech says.

“Newport News School District’s move away from diesel is helping reduce its environmental impact in the Tidewater region,” says Ryan Zic, vice president of school bus sales at Roush CleanTech. “The district would have to operate 100 propane autogas buses before it would produce as much NOx as only one diesel bus manufactured before 2007.”

The district celebrated the milestone bus with an event at its new transportation facility. To accommodate its growing propane fleet, the district installed a second propane station that can fuel two buses at once. Its original fuel infrastructure will be used at a smaller on-site bus lot.

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About the Author:

Joe McCarthy was an associate editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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