As fleets look to buy new buses, many approach a bid with a concerted effort to get the cost of the individual buses down as much as possible. After all, who doesn’t like to walk away from a good deal? With most districts are concerned with the “here and now” of an annual budget, it is very easy to lose sight of the costs that are created over the life of the vehicle. School buses have an average life of 10-15 years. That’s a long time to consider not only fuel costs, but also the cost of maintaining the vehicle, and replacing necessary parts.
By now, many of you reading this have heard about Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO. We’re writing about it again because the more you know about this topic, the better off your fleet and school district will be. While fuel type is important, the cost of maintenance over time holds a greater weight then you may expect.
Routine Maintenance — The Fuel Type makes a Difference
Every bus has a routine maintenance schedule that is adhered to in order to keep the bus running properly. Certain manufacturers will build-in maintenance schedules that coincide with your district or company’s typical maintenance plan. For example, Blue Bird’s diesel buses have the largest DEF tanks in the industry at 15 gallons, which better coincides with routine maintenance intervals.
The fuel type makes a difference here, too. Because the fuel runs cleaner, there is less oil changed in propane and gasoline buses when compared to a diesel bus. Plus, there are fewer components to maintain because these alternatively-fueled buses do not have DEF, DPF filters, turbo chargers—not to mention those sensors! These differences make your maintenance costs per year roughly 50 percent less than a diesel bus of the same model year. In fact, the average Blue Bird propane bus saves districts $800-$1000 per year in maintenance costs alone (yes, this is just for one bus).
What about Parts?
Replacement parts are a necessity when it comes to owning any vehicle. Brake pads, belts and other common parts will need routine replacement, no matter what kind of bus you choose. However, the fuel type makes a difference when it comes to additional parts that may require maintenance – or replacement – down the road.
Propane and gasoline buses have an average of 15 fewer emissions-reducing parts than their diesel counterparts. These parts are only in place to make sure the emissions produced meet air quality regulations. From DPF filters to turbochargers —it adds up to thousands of dollars in replacement parts, and even higher maintenance costs. You won’t find these on a Blue Bird propane or gasoline bus, because they simply do not need them!
No matter what fuel type you choose, today’s modern school bus is state-of-the-art when it comes to technologies designed to keep your maintenance costs down. For more information, contact your local Blue Bird dealer or visit www.blue-bird.com
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