North Penn School District Unveils New Blue Bird Propane-Fueled School Buses

The district plans to purchase more propane buses with the budget it saves in fuel and maintenance.
The district plans to purchase more propane buses with the budget it saves in fuel and maintenance.

LANSDALE, Pa. — North Penn School District unveiled 14 new cost- and emission-reducing propane school buses this week at a ribbon-cutting event at North Penn High School in Pennsylvania. The Blue Bird Vision Propane and Micro Bird buses, which are funded in part by the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust to support projects that reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, began operation last month.

“Propane school buses make the most sense for us. Other types of alternative-fuel school buses are cost-prohibitive and do not make sense for a school district our size,” said Angelo Tornetta, technician supervisor for North Penn School District. “Propane autogas operates clean and is much cheaper than diesel or compressed natural gas, plus it costs less to maintain a propane school bus. So, it was an easy decision.”

North Penn School District currently pays 97 cents per gallon for propane compared with $2.04 for diesel. The district has a newly installed, onsite fuel station with 18,000-gallon tank capacity.

“North Penn School District is experiencing the cost- and emissions-reducing benefits by adopting Blue Bird propane school buses,” said Mark Terry, the chief commercial officer of Blue Bird Corporation. “We congratulate the school district on joining 900 other school districts across the nation lowering their total ownership costs from this domestically produced fuel.”

Propane-powered buses emit far fewer NOx than diesel buses, and university studies have shown that this improvement increases in the start and stop duty cycle of a school bus. Exposure to NOx exhaust can have negative health effects on children, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Propane buses do not require dozens of extra parts in order to reduce emissions, which lowers maintenance costs.

“The Ford engine with a ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system exceeds today’s emissions standard at nearly 10 times lower NOx output, achieving California Air Resources Board’s optional, ultra-low certification,” said Ryan Zic, vice president of school bus sales for ROUSH CleanTech. “Both the school district and surrounding community will benefit from cleaner air and also less maintenance costs, since the engine is so clean.”

The district’s drivers are impressed with the power of the new propane buses and the low amount of noise that the engines create. Buses fueled by propane reduce noise levels by about half compared to a diesel engine. Drivers note that the propane buses make for a much quieter and calmer bus ride for the students.

“With a propane bus, I am able to monitor activity inside the bus much better than I’d ever been able to before,” said bus driver William Gottshall. “If something is going on inside the propane bus, I know about it immediately,”

Bus driver Kerri Neumeye agreed, also commenting on the bus’s performance. “The propane bus has excellent acceleration. When pulling into four lanes of busy traffic, you want the extra power this bus has.”

The district plans to purchase more propane buses with the budget it saves in fuel and maintenance.

About North Penn School District

The North Penn School District is located in southeastern Pennsylvania, approximately 20 miles north of Philadelphia in Montgomery County. Currently, the district consists of 13 elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school and one credit recovery school. NPSD employs approximately 2,000 staff members.

In 2019, North Penn School District was ranked as the 17th best school district in Pennsylvania by Niche K-12. Year after year, North Penn High School has ranked as one of the top schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. www.npenn.org

About Blue Bird Corp.

Blue Bird is the leading independent designer and manufacturer of school buses, with more than 550,000 buses sold since its formation in 1927 and approximately 180,000 buses in operation today. Blue Bird’s longevity and reputation in the school bus industry have made it an iconic American brand. Blue Bird distinguishes itself from its principal competitors by its singular focus on the design, engineering, manufacture, and sale of school buses and related parts.

As the only manufacturer of chassis and body production specifically designed for school bus applications, Blue Bird is recognized as an industry leader for school bus innovation, safety, product quality/reliability/durability, operating costs and drivability. In addition, Blue Bird is the market leader in alternative fuel applications with its propane-powered, electric and compressed natural gas-powered school buses.

Blue Bird manufactures school buses at two facilities in Fort Valley, Georgia. Its Micro Bird joint venture operates a manufacturing facility in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada. Service and after-market parts are distributed from Blue Bird’s parts distribution center located in Delaware, Ohio. http://www.blue-bird.com

About ROUSH CleanTech

ROUSH CleanTech, an industry leader of alternative fuel vehicle technology, is a division of Roush Enterprises based in Livonia, Michigan. ROUSH CleanTech designs, engineers, manufactures and installs propane autogas and electric fuel system technology for medium-duty Ford commercial vehicles and school buses, and compressed natural gas fuel systems for school buses.

As a Ford QVM-certified alternative fuel vehicle manufacturer, ROUSH CleanTech delivers economical, clean and domestically produced fueling options for fleets across North America. www.ROUSHcleantech.com or 800-59-ROUSH.