With the school year coming to a close, Tippecanoe School Corp. (TSC) in Lafayette, Ind., is gearing up to teach students, parents and administrators the benefits of clean, safe and economical propane autogas with the deployment of the state's five Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision school buses prior to summer break.
"We live in a farming community, and our neighbors know that propane is a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline and diesel," said Kevin Neafie, transportation director of TSC, the second-largest school district in Indiana. "TSC opened the doors to communication between everyone involved in our adoption of propane autogas. Our drivers are on board knowing they have a bus that is more comfortable and quieter to drive; our community is on board knowing the children are transported safely and their taxpayer dollars are being stretched further; and the district is on board knowing everyone involved is benefiting from the switch."
TSC worked with three key organizations to purchase the alternative fuel buses: Blue Bird dealer MacAllister Power Systems, propane distributor Ferrellgas, and the Energy Department's Greater Indiana Clean Cities. The deal was practically debt-free to TSC due to a $52,600 grant from the Indiana Office of Energy Development and the support of community business owners, who donated services during the installation of a 1,000-gallon propane refueling station for the buses. The county plans to install an additional refueling tank in the near future.
"The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision is the right, affordable choice for any school system looking to be environmentally and fiscally responsible," said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. "Tippecanoe School Corporation will be a thriving example of the benefits of using American-made propane autogas. With the array of financial assistance available through grants and incentives, purchasing the Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision, or our propane-fueled 30-passenger Micro Bird Type A bus, is even easier and more affordable."
TSC's 78-passenger Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision buses meet all applicable School Bus Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards, Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certifications, and uses the latest advancements in propane technology, including the ROUSH CleanTech liquid propane autogas fuel system and the Ford 6.8-liter engine.
"It's exciting to see Tippecanoe School Corporation make the move toward propane autogas, following what the state of Indiana's Department of Transportation has done with the installation of 115 refueling dispensers across the state," said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing at ROUSH CleanTech. "School district adoption of this technology is a natural next step in the state's push toward alternative fuels, specifically propane autogas."
As diesel prices bump against the $4.00 mark, the cost for TSC school bus drivers to fill up with propane autogas is $1.94 per gallon. These cost savings free up funding to be allocated toward other programs to enrich the community's school children. These cost benefits are matched by the eco-benefits of propane autogas.
"We are one step closer to TSC's goal of creating an environment that is conducive to better health for school children," said Neafie. "The Propane-Powered Vision buses reduce emissions and virtually eliminate particulates released into the atmosphere."