Fulton County Schools has rolled out a brand-new fleet of 90 Blue Bird propane autogas-fueled school buses equipped with three-point seat belts. It’s the largest fleet of its kind in the state of Georgia and also marks the 10,000th propane school bus manufactured by Georgia-based Blue Bird Corp.
“Our new Blue Bird propane buses with three-point seat belts meet our goal to provide the safest and most efficient transportation service for our community,” says Sam Ham, executive director of transportation for Fulton County Schools. “We are the first district in Georgia with three-point seat belts on a regular-route Type C bus. And with propane, we expect to save $3,500 in fuel and maintenance costs per bus per year – that’s $315,000 that can be allocated elsewhere, like back in the classrooms.”
“This propane bus purchase is a milestone for Fulton County Schools, as well as for Blue Bird, as we celebrate our 10,000th Blue Bird Vision Propane bus in operation,” says Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corp. “These propane school buses run on clean fuel, reduce emissions transmitted into the air and keep our students even safer with our newest feature, the NextGen Blue Bird Seat.”
Equipped with Ford Motor Co.’s 6.8L V10 engine, each Blue Bird Vision Propane school bus is powered by its exclusive ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system. The propane engine is certified to California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) optional low nitrogen oxide (NOx) level of .05 grams per brake horsepower per hour, making it 75% cleaner than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current emissions standard.
“Fulton County Schools’ adoption of propane buses demonstrates its commitment to students, community and taxpayers through cleaner air and reduced spending,” says Brian Carney, executive director of school bus and customer success for ROUSH CleanTech. “Because of their low NOx status, propane buses like these will be eligible for funding from the Volkswagen Settlement’s Environmental Mitigation Trust, which will fund clean technology that reduces NOx emissions.”
The school district’s propane buses are expected to lower NOx emissions by thousands of pounds each year compared with the number of diesel buses they replace.
“Fulton County Schools is joining a growing trend of school districts in the region and across the country that are finding major benefits operating propane school bus fleets,” says Tucker Perkins, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council. “Over 740 school districts are transporting more than 770,000 students to and from school each day, a trend that is only going to increase as more districts learn how clean, quiet and cost effective it can be to fuel their school bus fleet with propane.”
At its transportation facilities in Alpharetta and Fairburn, Fulton County Schools installed two new propane stations to fuel the buses. Amerigas, the school district’s propane partner, installed two turnkey fueling stations at no up-front cost. Infrastructure costs were rolled into the district’s price per gallon for propane. The stations’ fueling capabilities will handle the district’s plans to convert its entire fleet of school buses to propane. The 72-passenger propane buses will begin operation in the 2017-2018 school year.