When choosing what kind of fuel type your buses will use in your fleet, infrastructure is a large part of the decision-making process. There are costs to consider, as well as space and training your bus drivers and mechanics need for how to safely use new fueling or charging stations. The interesting part of infrastructure is that some fuel types have infrastructure that comes at little to no cost to you — and most providers will provide free training.
Arguably the most affordable fuel choice over the life your bus, propane has a very simple infrastructure setup. Many different types and sizes of fueling stations exist, depending on your facility and needs, and are scalable. The stations can be designed for just a few buses, all the way up to fleets comprised of hundreds of propane buses. These stations can occupy a footprint that is as small as a parking space, or they can go much larger — depending on the size of one’s propane fleet.
Propane pumps operate similarly to diesel and gasoline, making it easy for anyone to use. Many times, your local propane provider will install a fueling station onsite at no charge with a long-term propane contract — they may even service the pumps for you over the lifetime of your fueling station.
Diesel is the most common infrastructure setup for school buses today. Similar to gasoline, districts under a government contract tend to pay less per gallon of diesel at their fueling station than they would at a consumer fuel pump.
We are all familiar with the gas pumps that we use to fill our personal vehicles, and it’s no different for a school bus. The infrastructure of this fuel doesn’t tend to be the question people have with gasoline — it’s the fuel cost itself that tends to be discussed. Fortunately, many districts typically pay less per gallon of gasoline when it is purchased under a government contract. With Blue Bird’s gasoline buses touting the lowest acquisition cost of any fuel type, it is worth reviewing the options when it comes to fueling these buses.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
With Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, infrastructure is the biggest hurdle for most districts to overcome. With a price tag which could be over $1 million to install a typical fueling station, it is definitely a factor in a district’s fuel type choice. However, there are many grants and incentives that are available to help offset the cost of CNG infrastructure. Many gas utility companies also offer financial incentives, to ensure that districts can have this as a viable option. Plus, many public-private partnership opportunities exist, where commercial trucking operations and delivery services have the CNG infrastructure in place.
Blue Bird is the first major school bus OEM to introduce a Type D and C electric bus to market. Blue Bird’s electric school buses use a Level-2 charger with a J-1772 plug. This is the same plug you’ll find on many popular electric cars. These simple Level-2 chargers typically cost $1,000-$3,000 uninstalled, with some energy providers providing purchase incentives with a service agreement. Blue Bird’s electric buses are designed to charge during mid-day bus downtime, or 6-8 hours to obtain a 100 percent charge.
Blue Bird has the most fuel type options available on the market today, so you can choose the fuel type that works best for your fleet. For more information, visit: www.blue-bird.com.
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