“I am so impressed by the commitment of our transportation team, always striving for a greener fleet and keeping the safe transport of district students at the forefront of everything they do,” said Leo Bobadilla, chief operating officer at Houston ISD, which is the seventh-largest public school system in the nation and the largest in Texas.
Transportation General Manager Nathan Graf called the green fleet award “awesome” and was quick to credit the drive and determination of the entire transportation team, including Mark Swackhamer, senior manager of fleet operations.
“From the bus drivers who monitor engine idling, to the shop team members who reduce waste stream daily, to the routing team who uses GPS to optimize routing efficiency, everyone in the department played an essential role in this award,” Graf said.
With the help of a $2.2 million grant, Houston ISD added propane-powered school buses to its fleet this past August for an estimated annual savings of more than $3,000 in fuel and maintenance costs. The district also estimates the propane buses will lower particulate matter by 99 percent as compared to the older, petroleum diesel buses. Additionally, Houston ISD began using biodiesel in all of its school buses and diesel light-fleet vehicles in the 2010-2011 school year.
Employee involvement and supporting programs are also considered in the green fleet award. For example, the district transportation department in March formed a partnership with the University of Houston to test a school bus filter that would convert smog-producing pollutants emitted from engines into water and nitrogen gas.
Houston ISD’s top green fleet award is the second honor it has received in recent months. In May, it was the only school district in the nation whose transportation department was listed among the top 100 Best Fleets of North America for 2011.