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PERC Straight Talk: Mesa Public Schools

January 28, 2014 in Education, PERC Straight Talk, Propane by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Second in Series of Videos Focuses on Mesa Public Schools in Arizona

Propane has helped make it easier to buy and maintain school buses, says Ron Latko, director of transportation and fleet management for the Mesa Public Schools in Mesa, Ariz. He makes the case for propane autogas in the second of a series of “Straight Talk” videos, freely accessible on the web, prepared by the Propane Education & Research Council extolling the use of propane autogas for fleet vehicles of different types.

This is the second of the PERC Straight Talk
videos being debuted weekly by Fleets & Fuels

Mesa Public Schools wants to be the first in the nation to run a 100% propane autogas-fueled school bus fleet.

Mesa Public Schools wants to be the first in the nation to run a 100% propane autogas-fueled school bus fleet.

Mesa Public Schools is the largest school district in Arizona, operating 544 buses and 613 support vehicles used by operations, maintenance, grounds, and various school programs.

“We have reached a point now where they’re putting so many things on a diesel engine that the cost goes up and the life of the engine comes down,” Latko says in the video “You have to look at another option.”

Mesa Public Schools' Ron Latko

Mesa Public Schools’ Ron Latko

Mesa last year augmented its starter propane fleet with 55 Blue Bird Vision 77-passenger school buses and six 42-passenger wheelchair-accessible buses to increase its propane autogas bus total to 89 (F&F, June 4, 2013).

More Buses, Faster Payback

Mesa’s propane autogas fleet, says PERC, “transports thousands of students each day and in 2013 displaced 198,813 gallons of diesel fuel and 2,789 tons of greenhouse gases. Mesa Public Schools reports each propane-autogas-fueled bus saves the district about $6,500 in fuel costs each year.”

“It’s almost crazy how well it went,” Latko says if the initial process, including driver and mechanic training and installing a fueling facility. “We paid for the tank in the first year,” he says, “and now that we have more buses, the payback is even faster.”

Mesa has set a goal to become the first in the nation to run a 100% propane-autogas-fueled school bus fleet. Latko is going into his eighth year with the district as director of transportation.

He has 27 years in the transportation industry, and prior to Mesa served as general manager of Arizona Laidlaw Education Services.

Mesa Public Schools was recognized as a “Clean Air Champion” by the state of Arizona and Latko was named a “Sustainability All-Star” in both 2012 and 2013 by Green Fleet magazine for the district’s commitment to reducing emissions with alternative fuels.

Click here for PERC’s “Straight Talk” Video Series

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SOURCE: Propane Education & Research Council with Fleets & Fuels follow-up

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