Volkswagen settlement dollars fund purchase of propane-powered buses

October 8, 2018 By    
Two South Carolina school districts receive Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses. Photo courtesy of Blue Bird

Louisiana is the first state to release its VW settlement fund dollars. Lafayette Parish Schools will be the first recipient and will use the funds to purchase 10 Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses. Photo courtesy of Blue Bird

Lafayette Parish Schools, based in Lafayette, Louisiana, is the first recipient of Volkswagen (VW) settlement fund dollars. The school district will use the funds to purchase 10 Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses, which will replace aging diesel models.

Louisiana is the first state to release its VW settlement funds. The state’s $18 million is dedicated to the replacement of older diesel school buses over the next three years. The state’s school districts have the option to replace buses by utilizing the funds to cover 25 percent of the purchase cost of new diesel buses or 50 percent of the purchase cost for new propane buses, Blue Bird explains.

“With emissions reductions and maintenance costs in mind, we chose to purchase 10 Vision Propane Blue Bird buses,” says Joe Craig, assistant superintendent at Lafayette Parish Schools.

Blue Bird offers an ultra-low emissions level option of 0.02 grams per brake horsepower-hour NOx. The buses are powered by Roush CleanTech‘s propane fuel system. Reaching lower emission levels allows districts more opportunities to secure green-initiative grants, such as VW’s emissions settlement, as well as providing higher levels of funding for vehicles with low levels of NOx emissions.

“Because of the low NOx levels that can be reached with our propane engines, the buses are prime for grants and funding, including funding from VW’s Environmental Mitigation Trust,” says Todd Mouw, president of Roush CleanTech.

According to Craig, the main reasons propane was chosen over diesel, besides environmental benefits, were the cost savings over time and the options available to allow the buses to take longer routes without the need to refuel.

“The cost of maintenance for propane buses is significantly less than a diesel bus,” Craig says. “In addition, the larger, extended range fuel tanks being offered for these buses means we only have to refill our propane buses once a week on average.”

After VW’s emissions settlement was announced last year, propane school buses received heightened interest. The automaker’s $2.9 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust will fund actions that specifically reduce NOx emissions.

“As the first recipient of VW funds, we are delighted that Lafayette Parish Schools chose Blue Bird propane buses as their solution to reducing emissions,” says Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird.

*Featured image courtesy of Bob Yosay/The Vindicator

About the Author:

Joe McCarthy is an Associate Editor of LP Gas Magazine. You can contact him at jmccarthy@northcoastmedia.net and at 216-363-7930.

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