Three New Mexico school districts to operate propane buses

March 3, 2020 By    
One of Moriarty Edgewood School District's new propane buses. Photo: ROUSH CleanTech

One of Moriarty-Edgewood School District’s new propane buses. Photo courtesy of Roush CleanTech

New Mexico’s Los Lunas Public Schools, Magdalena Municipal School District and Moriarty-Edgewood School District (MESD) – in partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department – purchased school buses fueled by propane autogas. The 17 Blue Bird Vision Propane buses will be among the first propane school buses to operate in the state.

“Our district has had to dip into operational monies to supplement our transportation costs over the last eight years. Adopting propane technology will be significantly cheaper in fuel and maintenance costs,” says Teresa Salazar, superintendent of MESD.

Propane autogas costs 50 percent less on average than diesel, and autogas reduces maintenance costs and wear and tear on the engine and components, according to Roush CleanTech.

“It is very rewarding to see these New Mexico school districts lead the state toward adopting these near-zero emission propane school buses,” says Mark Terry, chief commercial officer of Blue Bird Corp. “They will experience the cost- and emissions-reducing benefits with Blue Bird propane school buses, resulting in district savings that can find their way into the classroom.”

The districts’ propane buses emit fewer total hydrocarbons and harmful nitrogen oxides than diesel. Exposure to nitrogen oxide exhaust can have negative health effects on children and is a leading cause of asthma, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

A school bus fueling demo at a New Mexico school district. Photo: ROUSH CleanTech

A school bus fueling demo at a New Mexico school district. Photo courtesy of Roush CleanTech

“Propane buses help districts lower their transportation budget by saving on fuel, fluids and filters,” says 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.”

Additional savings are available thanks to the extension of the federal alternative fuel excise credit. Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust and diesel replacement funds also help districts with propane bus purchases.

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, properties of propane, diagnostics and maintenance, and propane school bus fueling. Driver habits were also discussed to prepare for the adoption of the new propane buses.

“Our drivers learned a lot about propane school buses, including their cleaner and quieter ride and quick fueling,” says Bryan Baca, transportation director for Magdalena Municipal School District. “They were impressed with the benefits and can’t wait to drive them on their routes.”

The school buses, equipped with Roush CleanTech propane fuel systems, will begin operation for the 2020-21 school year.

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About the Author:

Sarah Peecher was a digital media content producer at LP Gas.

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