The Propane Research Council (PERC) is featuring the operations at Mesa Public Schools near Phoenix for its use of propane-powered school buses as part of a video series that launched this week on how the alternative fuel is providing solutions for fleet managers.
The first installment of "Straight Talk" on Wednesday provided an overview of five case studies that will be featured throughout the next five weeks. In the second installment, Ron Latko, the director of transportation and fleet management at Mesa, discusses how his school district uses propane in its fleet of school buses and has seen reduced fuel and maintenance costs.
Mesa Public Schools became the first school district to win PERC's Propane Autogas Fleet award PERC at the Green Fleet Conference & Expo in Phoenix for operating the largest school bus fleet in Arizona. The district has converted 89 of its 517 buses to propane autogas and has committed to eventually converting to an all-propane fleet.
Last year, Mesa reported that its propane autogas buses displaced 198,813 gallons of diesel fuel, whichs saves the district about $6,500 in fuel costs every year. Additionally, Latko says in the video that propane has reduced 2,789 tons of greenhouse gases emitted.
Meanwhile, Ben Shew, who recently retired as director of transportation at the West Virginia Department of Education, points out in the video previewing the series that propane has the fewest infrastructure costs. Additionally, according to West Virginia DOE investigations and research, Shew says propane school buses can reduce fuel costs by 25 percent to 30 percent, which, in his state, can equate to about $10 million a year.
Other interviews PERC to air during the coming weeks: Tom Armstrong, fleet manager at ThyssenKrupp Elevator, on Feb. 5; Rick Hilmer, fleet manager at Prince George's County, Md., on Feb. 12; Adam McCloe, vice president of operations at AAustin Express Inc. & GM Freight, Inc., on Feb. 19; and Brandon Morris, director of fleet services for DIRECTV, on Feb. 19.
In other related propane news, PERC will exhibit the first-ever, alternative-fuel school bus at the Kentucky School Boards Association's Annual Conference from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Louisville. Last year, the state allowed a school to pilot test an alternative fuel bus after a "diesel only" mandate was enacted in the late 1980s.
Additionally, PERC said the Kentucky Department of Education's Pupil Transportation Unit will vote in June whether or not to include propane autogas school buses on the approved purchase list for the 2014-2015 school year.