Across the U.S., school districts and transportation companies are adopting alternative-fuel vehicles as part of district and statewide initiatives to go green. While these alternative fuels can benefit the environment by reducing harmful emissions, they have also helped some operations save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs each year — particularly with propane buses.
West Side School District in Dayton, a city in Franklin County, recently added two new propane-powered buses to its fleet. Officials believe the Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses will not only be more cost effective, but also better for the environment. “Our area has some of the worst air quality in the nation,” District Superintendent Spencer Barzee said in a news release. “We are trying to do our part in helping with the air quality.”
02.19.20 — In a partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department, Los Lunas Public Schools, Magdalena Municipal School District and Moriarty-Edgewood School District have each purchased school buses fueled by propane autogas. The 17 Blue Bird Vision Propane buses will be the first propane buses to operate in the state.
Three New Mexico school districts will be rolling out the state’s first propane-fueled buses for the upcoming school year. Districts that serve schools in Los Lunas, Magdalena and the Moriarty area have purchased propane buses as part of a partnership with the state Public Education Department. Officials say the 17 new buses will help cut costs since propane prices average 50% less than diesel and maintenance costs are expected to be less.
Some students will soon be riding to school on a propane-fueled bus. Officials at Tillery Bus Sales unveiled eight buses on Tuesday. Schools in the Moriarty-Edgewood School District, Magdelina School District and Los Lunas Public Schools are taking part in a pilot program put on by the PED. Officials say the buses reduce emissions and cost less.
Volkswagen Update: February 2020
Between Volkswagen and non-VW programs that include eligibility for on-road propane vehicles, school districts have the potential to cover almost the entire cost of a new propane school bus purchase. Here’s the latest.
Over 20 states have publicly announced awards from 44 programs funded by the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust settlement. The devil is in the details though. Each state’s funding agency sets its own agenda, thereby setting the tone for which vehicle and fuel type is most likely to secure funding. From the exclusively transit-focused orientation in Georgia to the zero-emission agendas set in California and Washington, each state is approaching the use of Volkswagen funding differently. This diversity is evident in the results so far.
Through January 2020, states have publicly announced and awarded nearly $210 million in Volkswagen funds. Diesel projects far and away exceed all other fuel types, in both funding awarded and vehicles deployed. The simple reason is that diesel-to-diesel replacement projects are typically more cost-effective than diesel-to-alternative fuel projects, stemming from the relatively low incremental cost of new diesel technologies.
But propane is leading in vehicle deployments under the Volkswagen funds due to the school bus sector. Over $18 million awarded has gone towards the deployment of 366 propane-fueled school buses. The largest deployments were seen in Colorado (75), Tennessee (62), Indiana (60), and Iowa (56) with smaller deployments in Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
Several states may also create new opportunities or follow up on previous rounds of funding exclusive to school bus. Prior examples include Maryland, Nebraska and Tennessee, which supported the deployment of nearly 100 propane school buses in 2019. Based on previous awards, and open and upcoming opportunities on the horizon, the potential funding landscape for propane looks to be filled with opportunity.
Please contact Chelsea Jenkins at Chelsea.Jenkins@roush.com to discuss how best to approach and plan for the next phase of Volkswagen settlement opportunities in your state, as well as other resources like diesel replacement funds. Visit www.roushcleantech.com/volkswagen-settlement or www.propane.com for more information.
When deciding on safe options for school transportation, some decision-makers don’t consider propane autogas because they are under the impression the fuel is not safe. What they don’t know is propane is one of the safest options available. Not only is it safe for the students who ride propane buses to school, but it is safe for the communities in which the buses drive.
Alt Fuel Tax Credits Will Save Millions
In last month’s Alt Fuels, we announced that alternative fuel tax credits have been extended. This is great news for every school district operating propane school buses. Let’s take a quick look at what this legislation means overall and especially how much money our propane buses operators could save.
At the end of last year, Congress passed H.R. 1865, which provides the propane industry with prospective tax certainty as well as valuable research and development funding.
H.R. 1865 includes an extension of the alternative fuel tax credit and the fueling property credit, covering the years 2018 through 2020. The credits incentivize the use and adoption of propane as an engine fuel, putting more clean vehicles on the road and money back in the pockets of consumers.
Propane credits are covered at 36 cents per U.S. gallon. There’s an energy adjustment calculation for propane behind this, so ignore where you see other reimbursement amounts.
For the alternative fuel infrastructure portion, the fueling equipment for propane is eligible for a tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost, not to exceed $30,000 per property installation.
Just how much are we talking about here? With the 36 cents per propane gallon credit at an average of 4,000 gallons per year for all 15,000 Blue Bird Vision Propane buses on the road, that’s almost $65 million in just three years!
This is money that school districts can put back into the classrooms — or toward purchasing more propane buses. Make sure that your customers take advantage of this credit because the savings will add up nicely.
If you or your customers have any questions about the specifics of the alternative fuel excise tax credit, please refer them to the Alternative Fuels Data Center or the IRS.
ROUSH CleanTech Hosts Two Facility Tours
The ROUSH CleanTech facility tours are off to a hot start this year. We’ve hosted two tours with representatives from eight different school districts.
For the first tour, Michigan’s Holland Bus Sales brought representatives from three school districts. These were all new prospects who do not currently operate propane. They were very receptive during the tour and we’re feeling optimistic that they’ll make the switch.
Next, folks from MacAllister Transportation traveled from Indiana with reps from five school districts. This group included three current propane customers and two potential customers. It was beneficial to have current operators interact with potential buyers because they can answer questions for the potential buyers from a peer’s perspective.
Thanks to Holland Bus Sales and MacAllister Transportation for bringing the customers to us!
If you’re interested in touring ROUSH CleanTech with a group from your local school districts, read more about our Tour Support Program.
Tour Support Program
The Tour Support Program has become a highly effective sales tool. A facility tour at ROUSH CleanTech headquarters in Livonia, Michigan, is a great resource to educate both your customers and your employees. Depending on your goals, we can customize the tour’s content to focus on propane or gasoline school bus sales, technical service or general education.
We want to provide an equal opportunity for all dealers, regardless of your location, to visit our factory. To help cover the cost of this tour, we pay a portion of expenses based on where you’re coming from. Check out our recently updated reimbursement map to determine how much we will cover, per person, for visits from your state.
The typical tour itinerary includes:
- Afternoon arrival of dealer personnel and customers.
- Dinner hosted by ROUSH CleanTech and Blue Bird.
- Morning tour of the ROUSH CleanTech manufacturing facility, product overview and service presentations.
- Break for lunch provided by ROUSH CleanTech and Blue Bird.
- Demonstration of propane autogas fueling.
- Tour of ROUSH Performance and / or a tour of the Roush Automotive Collection museum, featuring Jack Roush’s personal collection of cars.
- Afternoon departure.
In order to qualify for the reimbursement program, the following criteria are required:
- Customer attendees must be current or prospective customers who plan to purchase in the next 12 months.
- Maximum group size is 30 people.
- Background information, including attendees’ names, titles, district and contact information, must be provided to ROUSH CleanTech in advance of the tour.
- At least one dealer representative must attend.
Whether you’ve taken this tour before with your team or a customer, or this is your first time, you’re sure to learn something new, and, more importantly, to close more sales.
To schedule a tour through our Tour Support Program, call us at 800.59.ROUSH or contact your ROUSH CleanTech rep today.
New, Easy-to-Use Service Portal Now Live
If you haven’t used the recently launched ROUSH CleanTech Service Portal lately, you’re in for a treat. To enhance your user experience, we have redesigned and upgraded it to offer a one-stop shop for all service needs. The new portal provides easier access to information on both a laptop and a mobile device. And, don’t worry, your current login information will remain the same. Let’s take a look at some of the key features of our new system.
The new service portal houses everything in one convenient place online. You’ll discover:
- Easier case management navigation.
- Quicker access to creating new warranty and customer support cases.
- All online training and training options.
- Increased searchability to find service publications by keywords.
- Access to hundreds of knowledge articles.
- Access to service and diagnostic manuals used by our support team.
Now, I’m sure you’re eager to check it out! To access the new ROUSH CleanTech Service Portal, visit ROUSHcleantech.com/service or start from our homepage, ROUSHcleantech.com, and click ‘Service.’
If you have any question about the new portal, please email email@example.com or call 800.59.ROUSH.