Thanks to state grants, students at Leander Independent School District (ISD) – located in a suburb of Austin, Texas – will be riding to school in new Blue Bird Vision Propane buses this month.
The 24 new buses are equipped with Ford’s 6.8L V10 engine and ROUSH CleanTech’s propane autogas fuel system, certified by both the California Air Resources Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to ROUSH CleanTech, these buses produce low nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at 0.05g NOx, which is 75% cleaner than the EPA emissions standard.
“The impact of our school bus fleet on the environment is a big concern because many of our community members live in an environmentally sensitive area,” says Ann Hatton, director of transportation for Leander ISD. “They appreciate that our school district is adopting a cleaner transportation option in propane.”
The school district, which has operated Blue Bird’s propane autogas buses since 2008, has obtained multiple grants over the years. This year, Leander ISD received $740,000 in funding from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
“Both our propane provider and local Blue Bird dealer have been very active in helping us identify grants,” notes Hatton.
“Leander ISD received grants from both TCEQ and Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance because propane buses reduce harmful emission around its students, drivers and community,” comments Ryan Zic, director of school bus sales for ROUSH CleanTech. “These buses will also lower the district’s fuel and maintenance costs significantly over their lifetime by operating with domestically produced propane autogas.”
Currently, the school district pays 45% less for propane autogas than diesel fuel. In total, it has 127 propane autogas buses, representing 30% of its fleet. The district plans to double its number of propane buses over the next five years.
“The savings achieved with our propane buses goes back into our school district general funds,” adds Hatton. “I am pleased that our choice of an alternative fuel can help put money back into the classroom.”
In addition, Hatton says the district’s technicians benefit from a lack of exhaust fumes in the maintenance bays. She also notes that the drivers appreciate the propane buses’ “get up and go” performance.
“It is very rewarding to see this school district continue its commitment to adopting propane school buses,” concludes Mark Terry, chief commercial officer at Blue Bird Corp. “Our No. 1 goal is the safety of the students we transport, and we feel that further reducing emissions achieves this goal.”