Two established bus contractors in Wisconsin announced they are increasing the number of alternative-fuel school buses they operate and thus decreasing their fleets’ carbon footprint. Another motivation is the fuel savings they've realized with propane autogas, they said.
Lamers Bus Lines of Green Bay recently purchased 41 new Blue Bird Propane Vision school buses, bringing its total propane fleet to 59. In the past year, the contractor reports it has saved more than $14,000 in fuel costs by switching to propane autogas. It is currently installing an onsite 30,000-gallon fueling dispenser to service the new propane buses, which transport students from Milwaukee Public Schools.
“Our propane buses have been completely trouble-free,” said Allen Lamers, president of Lamers Bus Lines. “We’ve had no issues whatsoever with them, and the deployment has been smooth. We received comprehensive training from our local dealer, Wisconsin Bus Sales, along with ROUSH CleanTech and our local propane provider.”
With more than 1,300 school buses, Lamers Bus Lines is looking to add more Blue Bird propane autogas buses to its expansive fleet. Paul Mennen, Lamers’ regional area manager, noted that everyone from their drivers to their technicians, to the community, loves the Propane Vision buses.
“We recently had a grueling winter. In the record-breaking temperatures, the buses’ performance was outstanding, and we had no mechanical issues,” said Mennen.
Meanwhile, Badger Bus has operated propane-powered school buses for the past two years and has 16 more Blue Bird Propane Vision buses on the way, for a total of 20 propane units. The new propane buses will transport students in Madison Metropolitan School District starting this fall.
The company, which already has a 2,000-gallon propane autogas tank on site, said it is currently paying $1.19 per gallon for propane autogas — less than half the price of diesel at $3.48 per gallon.
Badger’s buses travel between 12,000 to 14,000 miles each year, so fuel savings adds up quickly, the company stated, with an average annual fuel savings of over $3,500 for each bus. Like Lamers, the contractor has plans to add more propane autogas buses to its fleet.
“Our experience with Blue Bird’s propane autogas buses has been a very positive, economical experience. Our drivers love the power and quiet operation, our technicians love the ease of service and simple engine,” said John Meier, co-owner of Badger Bus, which has locations in both Madison and nearby Milwaukee. “Overall safety is of paramount importance with the students we transport, and the safety and environmental benefits of these buses further strengthen our partnership with the community.”
The Blue Bird Propane Vision and Micro Bird are equipped with the ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system and a Ford 6.8-liter engine, meeting all EPA certifications. The buses produce 60 percent less carbon monoxide, 12 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent less nitrogen oxide and up to 25 percent less greenhouse gases than gasoline.
Another Milwaukee-area school bus contractor, GO Riteway, showed its commitment to “greening” its fleet last fall when it purchased 10 new Blue Bird Propane Vision school buses and 10 Micro Bird buses for the Oak Creek–Franklin Joint School District. The company had been fueling their ground transportation fleet with propane autogas for years before turning to the domestically produced alternative fuel for one of their contracted school fleets.