The school bus industry was well represented on the award podium at the Green Fleet Conference in Phoenix on Oct. 2 as three organizations were recognized as "Sustainability All-Stars" for the use of propane.
Blue Bird, Mesa Public Schools and Student Transportation of America were among the 40 recipients of Green Fleet magazine's third-annual award for the Propane-Powered Vision conventional school bus. Joining them in receiving the sustainability awards was ROUSH CleanTech, which delivers the propane-autogas fuel system to the Blue Bird Vision, Brighton School District 27J in Colorado and contractor All-Star Transportation.
"This year's group of All-Stars is positive proof of the continuing efforts to green the fleet industry and the results that can be achieved through proactive efforts. We congratulate each and every one of the 2013 Sustainability All-Stars and thank them for their work in this field," said Mike Antich, editor of Green Fleet magazine.
In the past year Blue Bird increased its sales of the alternative-fuel bus by four fold and filled the single-largest order of propane-powered school buses in industry history. It was not a coinicidence that STA is the contractor for Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska, where the 432 buses are now in operation.
Blue Bird said the purchase by STA provides the Omaha community with substantial fuel savings in addition to providing a healthier environment for school children. Blue Bird added that its currently has mlore than five times the number of alternative fuel school buses on the road than all other makes combined.
"At Blue Bird, we are committed to providing innovative, reliable and efficient green solutions that our customers want and value," said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. "I am honored to accept this award on behalf of Blue Bird and all of our employees."
Mesa Public Schools, which also received an award last week from the Propane Education Research Council at the Green Fleet Conference, was named an All-Star for increasing its propane fleet over the past year. Ron Latko, the district's director of transportation and vehicle maintenance, accepted the award for the second consecutive year.
"We're committed to showing parents and residents in our community that we're doing everything we can to be fiscally and environmentally responsible," Latko added. "The fuel is green, safe and proven, and we plan to keep converting diesel buses until we run 100 percent on propane autogas."
Mesa currently operates 89 propane buses out of a fleet of 544 school buses. The district is saving more than $0.37 per mile in operating costs and with the purchase of 61 new Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision buses earlier this year expects to save $4.43 million in total operating costs over a five-year period.
All-Star Transportation is the bus contractor for a contractor for Torrington Public Schools in Connecticut, reportedly the first in the state to operate propane school buses.
"Torrington Public Schools is extremely impressed with the new propane buses provided by All-Star Transportation for the students of Torrington," said Cheryl Kloczko, Torrington's superintendent of schools. "They are quiet, odorless and allow Torrington Public Schools to safely transport children from home to school and back again."
Along with propane-fueled school buses, All-Star Transportation also utilizes a half dozen hybrid vehicles for its bus safety monitoring operations, and the company recycles all waste fluids from its diesel vehicles and uses it to heat All-Star Transportation's three maintenance facilities.
"We continuously seize every opportunity to make our fleet and our company green," said Leslie Sheldon, operations manager of All-Star Transportation.