Thomas Built & Clean Energy Fuels for Innovative Missouri Program:
‘The Nation’s Largest School Bus Transition to Compressed Natural Gas’
Daimler’s Thomas Built Buses and Clean Energy Fuels are among the winners as the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District outside Kansas City celebrates a ten-year lease-purchase program for “the nation’s largest school bus transition to compressed natural gas.” This fiscal year is to see deployment of 106 Thomas Built buses via Midwest Bus Sales.
The district says that more CNG buses will deployed next year for a total of 149. Also to be converted to CNG are a school district refrigerator truck used for delivery of food items, and approximately 46 vehicles used by maintenance and custodial employees.
They are to fuel at a new CNG station by Clean Energy Fuels, the first public-access facility on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metropolitan area. As part of the project, the Clean Energy station “will provide additional revenue for the district since Lee’s Summit R-7 will receive a royalty on retail CNG sales.” R-7 will operate the station.
$11 Million in Savings Anticipated
“We are making changes within our district that will benefit students for years and years,” R-7 superintendent David McGehee said in a release. “With the conversion to environmentally friendly school buses and district vehicles, we are able to use the savings generated in this area to purchase much-needed technology infrastructure and equipment that will provide students with access to increased technological resources.”
The ten-year initiative will produce an estimated $11 million in overall savings, R-7 says.
The plan is being funded through district savings, redirected resources and capital funds along with state, federal and business partnerships and grants, the district says.
The first phase of the switch to CNG-powered vehicles is taking place this summer. “Additional phases of the vehicle transition will occur as buses and vehicles are due for replacement in future years.”
Learning Technology Upgrades
“For students, the benefits of this initiative go well beyond environmentally friendly, reliable transportation with savings from the vehicle transition funding a comprehensive district-wide technology upgrade,” R-7 says. “The major component of this effort is improved and updated infrastructure to provide students and staff with a robust, reliable and secure network, including switches, wireless access points and server upgrades.
“This improved network will have the capacity necessary to support the school district’s growing demand for technology within the classroom curriculum, further benefitting students’ learning.
70% Savings on Fuel
“The technology portion of the project includes approximately $5 million in purchases over a 10-year period through the lease-purchase initiative.”
The district’s school bus fleet travels approximately 2 million miles each year with the overall R-7 school bus fleet age exceeding ten years prior to the CNG conversions.
Long-term fuel and maintenance savings are estimated at approximately $11 million, the district says, with outside resources for the initiative totaling close to $3.5 million. “Current estimates show the district saving close to 70% in fuel costs when comparing diesel fuel to compressed natural gas.”
The new Clean Energy station is to open this autumn.
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Source: Lee’s Summit R-7 with Fleets & Fuels follow-up