On July 11, Blue Bird Corporation and ROUSH Clean Tech launched the Propane Road Tour to commemorate the largest-ever propane autogas school bus purchase in history. The single-bus tour delivered the last bus of the order to the Student Transportation of America’s (STA) new terminal in Omaha, NE on July 17. STA is a subsidiary of Student Transportation, Inc.

The Propane Road Tour was created in order to raise awareness of propane autogas as a clean, safe, and efficient alternative fuel for school bus use. Propane autogas is a term used to describe propane that is used as an on-road engine fuel. Propane autogas is produced domestically, and can reduce carbon monoxide emissions by up to 60 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by up to 24 percent, and nitrogen emissions by up to 20 percent.

The propane autogas tour was launched in Fort Valley, GA, on July 11. The tour included multiple stops in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri. Along the route, the bus refueled at existing public propane autogas fuel stations. (Propane autogas currently has the largest refueling network of any alternative fuel in the United States.)

“The purpose of the Propane Road Tour is to provide the opportunity for school districts and communities to learn about the outstanding benefits of using propane autogas,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “Communities along the tour route, from Georgia to Omaha, had an opportunity to talk with key industry representatives about the economic, safety and environmental benefits of propane-powered school buses.”

A Blue Bird Corporation propane-powered school bus pictured above. Credit: NAFTC.

The school buses are classified as Type C school buses and feature a Blue Bird chassis, a Ford 6.8-liter V-10 engine, and a ROUSH CleanTech dedicated propane autogas fuel system. The buses offer 362 horsepower, 457 pounds of torque, and fuel cost savings of 40 to 50 percent compared to diesel counterparts.

Propane autogas burns more cleanly in engines than gasoline or diesel, which results in less engine wear-and-tear, reduced maintenance costs, and reduced emissions. The school buses reduce carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and total hydrocarbon emissions, as well as virtually eliminating particulate matter, when compared to conventionally fueled school buses. Noise levels on the bus are decreased by as much as 50 percent when compared to diesel counterparts, making it easier to hear the children on board. In addition, 90 percent of propane autogas is produced domestically, which means that the alternative fuel can help reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

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