The Kansas City Public School District purchased 47 new Thomas Built HDX rear engine buses powered by CNG by using $4 million in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition distributed the funds and the school district added the matching funds. The district runs 80 total school buses in its fleet, and Transportation Director George Taylor said he hopes to one day see the fleet become 100 percent CNG.
“Many forward-thinking customers are taking advantage of opportunities to build cleaner, greener fleets, and to address their long-term concerns about the price of diesel fuel,” said Ken Hedgecock, vice president of sales, marketing and service for Thomas Built Buses. “There’s about a $1 a gallon advantage in CNG over diesel, and that really adds up when you’re running a fleet of school buses. In addition, low finance rates and lower maintenance costs can sweeten the deal, generating substantial savings.”
The most recent order for Thomas Built CNG buses were purchased through Midwest Bus Sales, the Thomas Built dealer for Kansas, Oklahoma, western Missouri and Illinois. The dealer delivered one pilot model Sept. 1. Taylor said the district had by late last month received five new CNG buses for training.
“The drivers are raving about the buses’ great turning radius and maneuverability,” added Taylor.
The rest of the buses were scheduled to be delivered before the end of the year to be put into service when the infrastructure is completed in early 2011. Infrastructure, also part of the grant, is comprised of 35 time-fill dispensers, with dual hoses allowing each station to fuel two buses at a time. A time-fill arrangement allows buses to fill up overnight without any personnel being present, saving staff time and personnel cost.
“With curbside access to fuel, drivers hook up buses at the end of the day and in the morning buses are fueled and ready to go,” Taylor explained. “There’s room for another 23 buses sometime in the future.”
Taylor added that he hopes for the district’s fleet of large buses to be 100 percent CNG. With 47 new CNG buses in its fleet of 80 large buses, Taylor’s already more than halfway there.