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Newport News Public Schools Adds Clean-Operating, Propane-Fueled Blue Bird School Buses

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — For more than a decade, Newport News Public Schools has increased its focus on environmentally friendly and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions and ensure energy efficiency.

The purchase of 24 Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses supports this initiative by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by nearly 30,000 pounds and particulate matter by over 760 pounds each year compared with the diesel buses being replaced.

“Propane autogas is the best choice for Newport News Public Schools because it’s economical, safe, environmentally friendly and offers many bus maintenance advantages,” said Shay Coates, director of transportation for Newport News Public Schools. “After two years of attending trade shows, meeting with bus manufacturers, and talking with colleagues in school districts that operate alternative fuel buses, we knew this was the direction we wanted to pursue. The benefits of propane, in comparison to diesel, made it an easy choice for the school district.”

Currently, Newport News Public Schools pays 45 percent less for propane per gallon compared with diesel. Propane also reduces maintenance costs due to its clean-operating properties, and is the most commonly used alternative fuel in the world. More than 90 percent of the U.S. propane supply is sourced from North American reserves, boosting the national economy and passing savings on to school districts nationwide.

“Newport News Public Schools’ decision to run propane-powered buses is an environmental and cost- effective commitment to the Tidewater area’s students and community,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation.

The new propane buses have positively impacted the schools’ bus drivers. Rosalind McCauley, an 18-year veteran driver, said the new propane-fueled buses ride smoother and make less noise, allowing her to hear the students better. Driver Halle Washington said that the propane bus is so quiet that “at first I wasn’t even sure if it was running.” These propane-fueled buses reduce noise levels by about half compared to a diesel engine.

“Propane-powered school buses o.er tangible benefits to school districts like Newport News Public Schools looking for ways to reduce fleet operating costs while reducing their environmental impact,” said Brian Carney, executive director of school bus and customer success for ROUSH CleanTech.

Equipped with Ford Motor Company’s 6.8L V10 engine, each bus is powered by a ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system. The Blue Bird Vision Propane buses emit 80 percent fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons and virtually eliminate particulate matter when compared with diesel. ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel systems are Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certified. Now in their fourth generation, Blue Bird’s Vision Propane buses have grown in number since their start 20 years ago — over 9,500 propane buses have been produced.

In 2016, Newport News Public Schools earned platinum certification through the Virginia School Boards Association’s Green School Challenge for encouraging environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions and increase environmental awareness. Newport News Public Schools took delivery of the Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses in February.

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