First Student Purchases 86 Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision School Buses for Use in Portland Public Schools

School bus service contract to save up to $700,000 in fuel costs per year using clean, economical propane autogas

(June 25, 2012) — First Student, the largest provider of student transportation in North America, is taking delivery of 86 Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision school buses throughout the month of June. Planned for use in Portland Public Schools in Portland, Ore., this is the largest single order to date of propane autogas fueled buses for Blue Bird and ROUSH CleanTech.

“In their first year of operation, these propane autogas school buses are expected to save $500,000 to $700,000 in fuel and maintenance costs over their diesel counterparts,” said Mark Elias, area general manager for First Student. “Blue Bird is known as a highly durable, quality product. Coupled with ROUSH CleanTech’s technologically advanced propane autogas fuel system, First Student and the Portland community have a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly product for its students.”

The school district agrees. “It’s a win, win for us,” said Matt Shelby, district spokesman for Portland Pubic Schools. “Using propane-powered buses keeps our fuel costs down and reduces our overall emissions. It really is a no brainer.” 

Since 1977, First Student has experienced firsthand the fuel and maintenance cost savings due to operating school buses powered by propane autogas. The new Next Generation Propane-Powered Vision, equipped with ROUSH CleanTech’s dedicated liquid propane autogas fuel system, reduces carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and total hydrocarbon emissions, and virtually eliminates particulate matter, when compared to conventionally fueled school buses. Powered by the 362 horsepower, 457 lb.-ft. torque Ford 6.8-liter V-10 engine, the school buses meet stringent Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certification standards.

“We’re delighted that First Student and Portland Public Schools have selected Blue Bird’s unique propane powered school bus to meet the needs of the market,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “Not only will our propane buses provide significant savings each year in fuel and maintenance costs, Portland’s school children and the broader community will benefit from cleaner, healthier air.”    

Propane autogas, which costs up to 50 percent less per gallon than diesel fuel, offers reduced maintenance costs due to its clean-burning properties. Ninety percent of the U.S. propane supply is produced domestically, with an additional 7 percent from Canada, making it a domestic and secure source of energy. On-board the school buses, noise levels are decreased by 50 percent when compared to diesel counterparts, giving drivers fewer distractions.

“More and more students are being transported using this clean burning American-made fuel,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “At ROUSH CleanTech, we call it the zero compromise alternative fuel solution because propane autogas has it all — it’s clean, safe, cost-effective, reliable, abundant and produced right here in the U.S.”

First Student’s new Blue Bird school buses also include added safety features for the school district’s students and drivers. Automatically activated tire chains deliver traction in adverse weather. Digital camera systems provide mobile surveillance for further passenger safety, track vehicles and analyze routes. The buses are also equipped with an electronic system designed to prevent children from being left on the school bus and a motion sensor to increase security of unattended buses.

“Our drivers love the Propane-Powered Visions for their power and quiet operation, our service technicians love the buses for the clean-burning engine and parts, transportation management loves these buses for their lower fuel and maintenance costs, and most importantly, the community of Portland loves these buses for the near-zero particulate emissions,” said Elias.

About Blue Bird Corporation: Blue Bird offers a complete line of Type A, C and D school buses in a variety of options and configurations. For more than 85 years, Blue Bird Corporation has continued to set industry standards with its innovative design and manufacturing capabilities. Additionally, Blue Bird provides comprehensive financial solutions through Blue Bird Capital Services. Today, Blue Bird has more than 1,500 employees, Georgia-based manufacturing facilities and an extensive network of dealers and service-parts facilities throughout North America. Its global presence can be seen in more than 60 countries through sales into Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit the Blue Bird website at www.blue-bird.com.

About ROUSH CleanTech: Based in Livonia, Mich., ROUSH CleanTech offers dedicated liquid propane autogas fuel systems for a variety of light- and medium-duty Ford vans and trucks, and for the Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision and Micro Bird G5 school bus. Currently offered through authorized Ford dealerships around the country, the ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system delivers the same factory Ford performance characteristics and serviceability with a 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty. Customers can lower operating costs significantly while reducing vehicle emissions. Complete details on ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas offerings can be found online at ROUSHcleantech.com or by calling 800.59.ROUSH.

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