Earlier this week at the NAPT Summit in Memphis, Tenn., Thomas Built Buses announced it would add two more alternative-fuel school buses to its “green” family: a compressed natural gas–fueled Saf-T-Liner C2, due out in 2015, and a propane-powered Minotour already in production.
The company said it has delivered the first two propane Minotours to school bus contractor Student Transportation of America.
The new Type C conventional Saf-T-Liner C2 will utilize the Cummins Westport ISB6.7 G, a mid-range 6.7-liter natural gas engine that is now in development and expected to be available in 2015. The ISB6.7 G engine will be based on the Cummins ISB6.7 diesel engine and use Cummins Westport’s spark-ignited SEGR technology. It will be designed to meet Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board regulations in effect the year of release.
The smaller, Type A Minotour seats 30 passengers and is designed primarily for school and child-care transportation. Powered by a GM 6.0-liter engine, the Minotour is available on the 159-inch dual-rear-wheel model with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,200 lbs. The bus is CARB-certified and exceeds EPA 2010 emissions requirements, according to the company.
Kelley Platt, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses, told School Transportation News the OEM is committed to offering a robust line of alternative-fuel technology because there is not just one alternative-fuel solution for the school bus market.
"Hybrids are ideal for dense urban routes where there are lots of starts and stops. Propane and CNG also are viable alternative fuels for school buses and have different advantages. So, by offering customer options, they can create a fleet that is green, ideally optimized for their needs and cost effective," Platt said.
The company noted that it expanded its CNG offerings in response to growing customer interest in school buses powered by less costly, cleaner-burning and domestically produced natural gas. Thomas’ HDX CNG school bus releases up to 20 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel.
“There's been an amazing acceleration of clean drive technology in recent years and this has resulted in cleaner fuels and greener solutions in the school bus industry," he added.
Thomas' alternative-powered vehicle lineup already includes the Saf-T-Liner C2e diesel-electric hybrid and Saf-T-Liner HDX CNG. In 1992, Thomas launched its Type D rear-engine Saf-T-Liner HDX school bus fueled by CNG. Since then, it has rolled out more than 1,300 HDX CNG buses, from California to Florida.
In 2011, Thomas Built earned the distinction of becoming the first school bus OEM to achieve Zero-Waste-to-Landfill status, and this past February it received the 2011 Environmental Steward Award from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.