Photo: Newport News Public Schools

Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) in Virginia has received 18 new propane autogas buses from Blue Bird Corp., bringing the bus manufacturer’s total propane bus deliveries to 15,000.

NNPS operates a fleet of 335 buses, 62 of which are fueled by propane. The district has used propane autogas buses for two past years and will add 11 more by the end of 2019.

“We continue to replace our school district’s aging diesel buses with propane,” states Shay Coates, transportation director of NNPS. “Propane not only reduces emissions but also saves our district thousands of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs each year.”

Coates also points out the buses’ quiet ride: “There is a huge difference in noise level with our propane buses. Drivers have had nothing but positive experiences,” Coates says. “The only complaint we’ve had from students is that the propane buses are so quiet that they may not hear the bus coming!”

The district celebrated the new buses with an event at its new transportation facility. To accommodate its growing propane autogas fleet, NNPS installed a second propane station that can fuel two buses at once. The district transports over 23,000 students to and from school each day.

“We’ve saved $800 on oil changes alone with each of our propane buses compared to our diesel buses,” notes Brian Hanna, maintenance manager for NNPS. “Propane buses cost less to fuel, as well: about 80 cents less per gallon.”

The Blue Bird Propane Vision buses have a Ford engine with a ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system.

“Newport News School District’s move away from diesel is helping reduce its environmental impact in the Tidewater region,” says Ryan Zic, vice president of school bus sales at ROUSH CleanTech. “The district would have to operate 100 propane autogas buses before it would produce as much NOx as only one diesel bus manufactured before 2007.”

“The Newport News school district is joining hundreds of other school systems across the country that choose clean-operating and economical propane,” adds Mark Terry, chief commercial officer of Blue Bird Corp. “They want to save money, benefit the environment and simplify maintenance. Propane’s reputation as economical, safe and environmentally friendly is growing quickly.”

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