A 2014 investment in 18 propane-fueled buses is paying off for the Neosho School District, so much so that it is looking to add more to its fleet. The district purchased the buses about three years ago in hopes of cutting costs and helping the environment.
Vehicles equipped with propane autogas fuel systems made a strong showing at NTEA’s Green Truck Summit and Work Truck Show. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) presented a session entitled “Propane Autogas – A Viable Economic Solution for Emissions Reduction” and featured two propane autogas-powered trucks in its booth.
VW Update: Trustee Selected
VW funding just took another step closer to becoming available! Announced last week, Wilmington Trust has been designated the trustee that will oversee the administration of the Volkswagen Settlement funds. This starts the states’ timeline, as they must choose a beneficiary within the next 60 days. For some states, this will be an easy decision and for others, they will be working hard over the next couple months to determine the lead agency.
While the beneficiaries are being determined, it is important for you to reach out to your potential agency and introduce yourself (if you haven’t already done so). You can find a list of potential beneficiaries that we have compiled online here. Once the beneficiaries are in place, they will have a couple months to produce a draft plan for how they will use the funds.
Once draft plans are published, that will be the time you need to respond to the proposed program for your state and comment whether you feel they are using the funds adequately or not. Written responses are imperative at this stage, because that is what will drive any changes to the final state plans.
If you need help writing language either in support or recommending changes to the proposed plan, please reach out to Chelsea Uphaus at email@example.com or 734-466-6710 to discuss.
The trustee being nominated is a huge step in the right direction. We feel that we may see funds as early as this fall based on the timelines each state is working within.
In the News
We want to help promote your customers’ experience with propane! Coverage in industry trade publications about the benefits of propane autogas helps school bus operators and school districts make informed decisions about alternative fuels. A consistent, ongoing presence in these publications raises awareness and reaches key decision makers that can lead directly to purchases.
Press releases, focusing on new products and services, are one way to build a presence in industry trade media. We’ve seen success already with a number of your peers, including Blue Bird Bus Sales of Pittsburgh, Holland Bus Company, and Blanchard Power Systems writing press releases about their customers’ adoption of propane autogas. Just last year alone, we secured over 100 stories using press releases written and distributed, in whole or in part, by ROUSH CleanTech.
Another way is through feature articles. Publications release annual editorial calendars that outline the topics they’ll cover each month. At the start of each year, we partner with TSN Communications to identify the opportunities where we can best provide valuable insights about everything related to propane autogas and its benefits to school bus fleet operators and school districts. We contact editors with strong, non-promotional, fact-based media pitches.
Every year we place expert bylined articles in industry trade publications and we participate in dozens of media interviews. But we can only do this with your help.
Do you have a compelling story about how you helped transition a school bus fleet to propane autogas? Do you have facts and figures about a school district experiencing direct benefits from propane autogas? If so, we want to hear from you. Please contact Chelsea Uphaus (Chelsea.firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn how you can participate.
ROUSH CleanTech Factory Technician Workshop
Our commitment to Customer Success means providing our customers’ service technicians training on how to maintain their propane fuel systems. In 2016, we held 79 training sessions, taught at 226 locations and instructed 745 technicians about propane autogas fuel system technology. We want to exceed those numbers this year, and we’re starting off strong.
Our first 2017 ROUSH CleanTech Factory Technician Workshop was earlier this month, hosted at ROUSH CleanTech’s headquarters in Livonia, Michigan. This advanced technician course covered technical, service and diagnostics aspects of the propane-powered Blue Bird Vision school bus. Because the Vision is equipped with a Ford 6.8L V10 engine, we also hosted representatives from Ford, who covered Ford IDS functionality. This hands-on training class is designed specifically for dealer and technicians.
The ROUSH CleanTech Factory Technician Workshop was so successful, and we had so many interested folks ask about future dates, that we’ve decided to host three more sessions at ROUSH CleanTech later this year. Here is a list of our upcoming workshops:
- May 16 – 17 [Register here]
- July 20 – 21
- September 19 – 20
As always, we continue to offer and strengthen our online training. Our interactive web-based training courses and certification use comprehensive service information in an easy-to-follow course.
The web-based training has two tracts: one for service technicians and one for service managers. The service technician training includes propane usage as an on-road fuel (autogas), a fuel system overview, system diagnostics and a basic warranty review. The course for service managers has the same syllabus, but with a more detailed warranty process section.
The online service section includes downloadable, up-to-date service and diagnostic manuals and warranty information. You’ll also find technical videos on fueling, engine start, driver training and more, along with technical phone support contact numbers.
Whichever method you prefer, please know that our training programs are here to help you and your customers succeed.
Dealer Spotlight: Brightbill Body Works
Location: Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Interviewee: Mason Hemphill
Title: Sales Representative
Q. What has made you successful with alternative fuels?
A. In the ’80s we experimented with gasoline buses and non-OEM propane alternatives in Blue Bird school buses in my home state of Texas. We learned a lot in those days where propane worked, but the non-OEM vapor driven systems were costly for our customers. Once the abundance of propane was discovered in the large natural gas reserves, it became much more attractive as an alternative fuel. After exhausting (no pun intended) several years of EGR and SCR and related truck emission solutions, I was eager to see the ROUSH CleanTech system with liquefied injection and OEM quality in action.
The Roush team at the time was Todd Mouw and Chelsea Jenkins who quickly convinced me that this was to be the fastest and most exciting product to be introduced to our industry. I thoroughly and completely believe in this product and its further development in the alternative fuel, clean air transportation and energy independence revolution. This is the right thing to do for taxpayers, the environment and, most importantly, future generations.
At Brightbill, we’re very passionate about propane-fueled school buses because school districts and contractors experiencing negative aspects of diesel maintenance now have a practical solution. Propane-powered school buses not only are the right thing to do for the school district, but also for the environment and especially for our school children with developing respiratory systems.
Q. What is your overall approach to selling propane-fueled buses?
A. I am grateful and humble every day with all the excitement about the Blue Bird Propane Vision. This does not happen overnight, and I am fortunate to have many wonderful people helping me along the way.
Short- and long-term planning / goal setting are vital to get the process started. I have a great staff and colleagues at Brightbill, ROUSH CleanTech, the Blue Bird team, key fuel suppliers and agencies, like the Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association and EP-ACT, PTAP and PSBA, who have helped me with opportunities to speak about the propane bus and its benefits. The benefits of clean air drive me and its why the school bus industry has such a bright, clean and abundant future with propane. The propane bus is interesting to people and the best built offering that I have ever had the privilege to sell.
Q. How do you introduce propane-fueled buses to prospective customers?
A. We utilize propane gas associations, trade shows, transportation associations, trial programs, safety competitions and our local Clean Cities coalitions to help us get the word out. I have a great state gas association (PAPGA) that helps me maintain relationships with propane marketers. This has been vital to my success and are my experts for fueling infrastructure, safety and usage.
We are participating members of local transportation and school business associations who often invite me, ROUSH CleanTech and Blue Bird to speak about the success of the propane school bus in other areas of the country and our state. We develop presentations, drive demonstration buses and show them anywhere it is practical. We participate in state and local safety competitions in my area to show off the benefits of propane in the Blue Bird school bus. It’s a great way to introduce propane buses into the conversation and get key exposure.
Another component of success is the EP-ACT, which is a local agency that helps write grants and is in touch with incentives for our end-user schools. This helps get the word out and, while not completely necessary for a successful ROI, has assisted with great press and enthusiasm about the projects.
Q. Have you received any feedback from school bus drivers?
A. Yes! Our success is vital from our drivers! If you speak to drivers at school districts, rarely do they have the knowledge about what they are driving. We would never attempt to describe the chemistry set solutions that are present in the modern-day diesel buses because it seems to work against them in the stop / start application of a school bus. We recognized that the drivers related to propane easily because it is quiet and fun to drive (compared to diesel buses). Now, I speak to school bus drivers every chance I get about what Blue Bird, ROUSH CleanTech and Ford are doing with the propane school bus. We want them to have a stake in this remarkable movement.
We teach driver orientation classes that include history, operating and safety procedures about the propane product. We demonstrate the propane school bus constantly and drive it thousands of miles around our area to show bus drivers, transportation management, owners, superintendents and even school boards the bus. Once drivers have a chance to drive their new propane-fueled buses, and understand the state-of-the-art investment that their school and / or contract company has supplied them, they never want to go back to a diesel-powered bus.
Older diesel buses often create fatigue from noise, vibration and fumes. This diminishes the energy and enthusiasm required to operate a school bus effectively. The Blue Bird Propane Vision eliminates these issues and ensures a quieter and more pleasant vehicle to transport children. Drivers can concentrate on the passengers and other dynamics of the school bus environment. Drivers love the fact that our bus heats up with distributed heat much faster, reduces idle time and is as much as 9 decibels quieter than a diesel.
So yes, I guess I would say that driver understanding and participation is critical to the success of this product. I enjoy showing it to drivers to help them understand that this is a win-win for the everyone involved.
East Chicago public school students are the first in the Region to ride on school buses powered by propane, thanks in part to a grant provided by BP’s Whiting Refinery, project partners announced Monday. Six new school buses were on the road Monday.