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Boston Public Schools Shift to Propane Buses

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Boston Public Schools will operate 11 percent of its bus fleet with Blue Bird propane autogas buses, starting with the 2015-2016 school year. The school district is purchasing 86 Blue Bird Propane Vision school buses, and hopes to convert more of their diesel fleet to propane buses in the future.

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Boston Public Schools Shift to Bluebird's Propane-Powered Buses (Photo: Business Wire)

Boston Public Schools Shift to Bluebird’s Propane-Powered Buses (Photo: Business Wire)

Like many urban cities, Boston has implemented mandates for reducing tailpipe emissions. The school district, already the city’s largest user of diesel fuel, has enacted a number of emissions-reducing initiatives in the past 15 years through its “Greening Boston Public Schools” program. School buses fueled by propane autogas fit with their mission to choose vehicles with the highest efficiency and the lowest environmental emissions, according to Peter Crossan, fleet and compliance manager of Boston Public Schools.

“These new Blue Bird Propane Visions mean many students will no longer be exposed to diesel fumes when boarding or disembarking our buses,” said Crossan.

The new buses, powered by a Ford V10 engine, each come equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system. The district’s autogas fleet will emit 66,000 fewer pounds of nitrogen oxide and 2,700 fewer pounds of particulate matter each year, when compared to the diesel buses they are replacing. Vehicles fueled by propane autogas emit 80 percent less smog-producing hydrocarbons and virtually eliminate particulate matter when compared to conventional diesel.

Boston Public Schools started exploring alternative fuels once the city’s outdated tunnel restrictions were lifted. About 40 percent of its fleet consists of 169-inch wheelbase buses. This smaller bus size meets the district’s need related to range and hours of service, which averages almost twice the national average on a daily basis, according to Crossan.

“At Blue Bird, we designed and engineered a propane autogas fuel system on the short wheelbase buses to meet Boston Public Schools’ operating needs,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “Plus, Blue Bird Propane Visions offer the great city of Boston the added benefit of reducing its carbon footprint.”

The 169-inch wheelbase bus is designed with a 50-gallon sized tank to accommodate shorter runs, and works well for Boston’s urban routes and special needs applications. This new autogas bus offering expands Blue Bird’s propane autogas portfolio, which also includes the 70-gallon standard and 100-gallon extended-range autogas tanks.

The school district also expects to save at least $1 per gallon on fuel as well as lower maintenance costs due to the cleaner burning properties of propane autogas.

To fuel the buses, Boston Public Schools has contracted with a company that performs on-site propane autogas fleet fueling services. “We want other school districts to know that on-site infrastructure isn’t the only option when introducing propane autogas into their fleet,” said Crossan.

The school district will take delivery of the buses in June.

About Blue Bird:

Blue Bird is the leading independent designer and manufacturer of school buses, with more than 550,000 buses sold since its formation in 1927 and approximately 180,000 buses in operation today. Blue Bird’s longevity and reputation in the school bus industry have made it an iconic American brand. Blue Bird distinguishes itself from its principal competitors by its singular focus on the design, engineering, manufacture and sale of school buses and related parts. As the only manufacturer of chassis and body production specifically designed for school bus applications, Blue Bird is recognized as an industry leader for school bus innovation, safety, product quality/reliability/durability, operating costs and drivability. In addition, Blue Bird is the market leader in alternative fuel applications with its propane-powered and compressed natural gas-powered school buses. Blue Bird manufactures school buses at two facilities in Fort Valley, Georgia. Its Micro Bird joint venture operates a manufacturing facility in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada. Service and after-market parts are distributed from Blue Bird’s parts distribution center located in Delaware, Ohio.

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