Livonia Public Schools adds 22 Blue Bird propane buses

March 3, 2021 By    

Livonia Public Schools added 22 Blue Bird propane autogas-fueled buses to its fleet with funding received from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Propane school bus photo courtesy of Livonia Public Schools

Livonia Public Schools in Livonia, Michigan, added 22 Blue Bird propane autogas-fueled buses to its fleet. Photo courtesy of Livonia Public Schools

The district was granted more than $844,000 through EGLE’s Fuel Transformation Program to purchase clean, cost-effective propane school buses that began operation when Michigan schools opened for the 2020-21 school year.

“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,” says 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 says it turned to propane after dealing with the costly and complex emission systems required on diesel buses. The new Blue Bird Vision Propane buses don’t require any additional emission maintenance. They are 75 percent cleaner than federal emissions standards, emitting less total hydrocarbons and virtually eliminating particulate matter, according to Blue Bird and Roush CleanTech.

“EGLE recognizes children’s vulnerability to diesel exhaust and the importance of replacing old diesel school buses with new low emission school buses,” says Debra Swartz, fuel transportation program manager for EGLE, which serves as the state’s lead agency for Volkswagen settlement funds. “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. Projects such as Livonia Public Schools to replace old diesel school buses with new propane buses aligns perfectly with these goals.”

EGLE has provided grants to 69 school districts to replace over 300 school buses.

Across North America, the price of propane autogas averages 50 percent less than diesel, Blue Bird and Roush CleanTech note. The district pays $2.08 per gallon for diesel and $1.21 per gallon for propane; it also installed a propane fuel station on its property to help manage fuel costs and refill the buses. The filling station was built at a minimal cost to the school district based upon a contract to purchase propane 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,” says David Bercik, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bird Corp. “The power and reliability of domestically produced propane is helping the nation lead a clean fuel revolution.”

Nearby Wayne-Westland Community Schools also received Volkswagen settlement funding and purchased 19 new propane school buses.

“It’s been rewarding for us to see our hometown school districts operate these economical and clean propane buses,” says 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 Co.

Across the nation, there are more than 20,000 propane buses deployed in more than 1,000 school districts.

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Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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