In an effort to reduce carbon emissions and ensure energy efficiency, Newport News Public Schools in Virginia has purchased and is operating 24 Blue Bird Vision propane school buses, reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by nearly 30,000 pounds and particulate matter by over 760 pounds each year compared with the diesel buses being replaced.
“Propane autogas is the best choice for Newport News Public Schools because it’s economical, safe, environmentally friendly and offers many bus maintenance advantages,” says Shay Coates, director of transportation for Newport News Public Schools. “After two years of attending trade shows, meeting with bus manufacturers, and talking with colleagues in school districts that operate alternative fuel buses, we knew this was the direction we wanted to pursue. The benefits of propane, in comparison to diesel, made it an easy choice for the school district.”
According to Blue Bird Corp., Newport News Public Schools took delivery of the Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses in February.
Currently, Newport News Public Schools pays 45% less for propane per gallon compared with diesel. The district notes that propane reduces maintenance costs, and considering that more than 90% of the U.S. propane supply is sourced from North American reserves, the alternative fuel also boosts the national economy.
“Newport News Public Schools’ decision to run propane-powered buses is an environmental and cost-effective commitment to the Tidewater area’s students and community,” says Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird.
In addition, these propane-fueled buses reduce noise levels by about half compared with a diesel engine.
Rosalind McCauley, an 18-year veteran driver, says the new propane-fueled buses ride smoother and make less noise, allowing her to hear the students better. Driver Halle Washington says that the propane bus is so quiet that “at first, I wasn’t even sure if it was running.”
“Propane-powered school buses offer tangible benefits to school districts like Newport News Public Schools looking for ways to reduce fleet operating costs while reducing their environmental impact,” comments Brian Carney, executive director of school bus and customer success for ROUSH CleanTech.
Equipped with Ford Motor Co.’s 6.8 L V10 engine, each bus is powered by a ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system. The Blue Bird Vision Propane buses emit 80% fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons and virtually eliminate particulate matter when compared with diesel. ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel systems are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency- and California Air Resources Board-certified. Now in their fourth generation, Blue Bird’s Vision Propane buses have grown in number since their start 20 years ago – over 9,500 propane buses have been produced.