HomeNewsMesa USD Is Arizona’s First School District to Go Propane

Mesa USD Is Arizona’s First School District to Go Propane

Today Mesa Unified School District became the proud owner of 27 propane-powered Blue Bird school buses — as well as the first district in Arizona to make this type of purchase.

Tom Hartman, sales manager for Canyon State Bus Sales, the authorized Blue Bird and Collins dealer for the state, said the company will deliver 21 Type A Microbird buses and six Type C Blue Bird Vision buses to the school district on Nov. 3.

“Mesa USD should be commended for being creative in such a poor economy and for not only saving taxpayers money but also cleaning up the environment,” Hartman said.

Mesa USD Transportation Director Ron Latko said he decided to switch from diesel buses to propane to save money and reduce air pollution when transportation funds became available during the final year of a school bond.

“Propane has lower carbon content than gasoline and diesel, and is about $1.50 per gallon less than diesel. Adding in the fact that the federal government will reimburse the school district 50 cents per gallon puts the savings on fuel closer to $2 a gallon,” said Latko, who came to Mesa USD from Laidlaw Education Services six years ago.

He projects significant cost savings for his department because of its sheer size. It has the largest transportation fleet in the state, with roughly 509 buses, and the seventh largest special education fleet in the nation. The district’s website states, “We average 34,500 miles per day for a total of over 6,210,000 miles per year.”

Latko said he held off on purchasing new diesel buses a year ago after reading about the financial and environmental benefits of propane buses already being seen in school districts across California and Texas.

“It actually cost us less money to buy the propane buses. The other comforting thing is that 90 percent of all propane on this planet comes from the U.S. and it’s clean. I don’t have to worry about any kind of spillage — or the EPA,” Latko said.

“I want to send a message to the community here that we want to be as fiscally and environmentally responsible as we can with the limited resources that we have,” he continued. “I’m very excited about it.”

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