Two new propane busses will transport local students
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
We save money, it’s better for the kids, and it’s better for environment. Eventually we’ll have the whole fleet be propane.” – Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Joe Powers
Two new propane powered busses will be added to the fleet for the Crawford AuSable School District next month.
The Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education recently approved the purchase of a pair of busses at a cost of $184,746.
The busses were ordered through a statewide bidding arrangement for all school districts through the Holland Bus Company. The propane busses are coming from the Blue Bird Corporation, which is based in Fort Valley, Georgia.
The Crawford AuSable School District has three propane busses in its fleet of 14 busses.
Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Joe Powers said the district saves $10,000 per bus, per year in operational cost versus using diesel powered busses.
“As fuel prices go up, we’re just going to save more and more,” Powers said.
School districts receive a subsidy from the federal government for using the propane powered busses.
The busses are warmer and more comfortable for students, especially when there are bone chilling temperatures, which have impacted the region this month.
“Like today, a diesel bus would never warm up as far as the inside, because they’re just a big metal box going down the road,” said Powers, adding that some students ask to have the heat turned down.
When traveling to activities and sporting events, the diesel busses have to remain running to maintain their heat. They also have to be plugged in during the night time hours to ensure they will start.
The propane busses are quieter and better for the environment.
“We save money, it’s better for the kids, and it’s better for environment,” Powers said. “Eventually we’ll have the whole fleet be propane.”
The propane to power the busses comes from Fick & Son, Inc.
Fick & Sons, Inc. provided a free storage tank for the school district to use.
“We always try to do our business locally, as much as we can,” Powers said.
Residential fuel trucks from Fick & Sons, Inc. make regular deliveries to the school district throughout the week.
“At the end of their route, if they have a couple hundred gallons left over, they’ll just swing by and drop it in,” Powers said.
It typically takes 100 days to deliver the busses from the time they are ordered, so they are expected to be on the road in February.
The busses are coming with extended range fuel tanks, digital cameras, and undercarriage storage units to haul equipment and supplies to activities and sports matches.
The school board is requiring that all new busses come with the undercarriage storage units.
“It’s the cheapest at the time when you install them versus adding them on,” Powers said.
Two diesel busses, which take the greatest cost to repair and maintain, will be retired from the fleet. Those busses are offered for local bids and can be purchased if they can still be driven or used as storage sheds. If they cannot be sold locally, they are sold to Kalamazoo Metal Recyclers, Inc. Sometimes those busses end up in Mexico for use for transportation, Powers said.
Crawford AuSable School District voters on Aug. 4, 2015 approved a bond proposal to pay to replace roofs on school buildings, fund technology for students, purchase school busses, and a bus storage facility. Voters in the school district, which covers Crawford County and portions of Otsego and Kalkaska counties, approved the proposal that allowed school officials to issue a sum not to exceed $14,900,000 in unlimited tax bonds by a 676 yes to 480 no vote.
“It’s because of the community support that we’re able to purchase these busses,” Powers said. “The intent is every couple of years to buy a couple of new busses so we can keep the bus fleet updated. It’s absolutely supported by the community.”