Acquiring 41 Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2s
Thomas Built Buses’ Saf-T-Liner C2 propane-powered school buses have impressed a Minnesota school district enough to order 38 more for its fleet. Independent School District 15 (ISD 15), located in St. Francis, Minn., tested three propane-powered buses and placed an order for 41 of the district’s 51 buses to be propane autogas-powered during the 2015-16 school year.
Launched last year by Thomas Built Buses, Saf-T-Liner C2 propane school buses are equipped with an 8.0L engine from Powertrain Integration and a propane fuel system from CleanFuel USA. The buses have liquid propane injection fuel systems from CleanFuel USA, including fuel rails, lines, tank package with fuel pump, and control module. Thomas Built’s sister company at Daimler, Freightliner Customer Chassis, also supplies parts to the Saf-T-Liner C2.
ISD 15 estimates it will gain savings of about $200,000 in fuel costs alone this year. ISD 15 has also noticed substantial cost savings with propane on routine maintenance such as oil changes and fuel filters. The district reported using about 28 quarts of oil per oil change in the diesel buses versus only 10 quarts of oil in its propane-powered buses, according to a case study by Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). The propane association has awarded the school district a $2,500 donation for testing and adopting propane autogas.
Better Performance in Cold Weather
The school district has found that its propane-powered school buses perform better than diesel-powered buses in cold weather, according to Bob Roehl, program manager at Powertrain Integration. The school buses start easier than diesel engine buses, and don’t need assistance from block heaters. The propane buses save on electricity consumption, starting up and heating the interior faster so that windows become defrosted quickly, Roehl said.
Cash Gas, a propane supplier in St. Francis, has supplied the school district with six propane tanks and two dispensers for fueling the buses. ISD 15 is the only fleet customer in area using propane autogas; home heating makes for most of the propane consumption, according to the company.
School Districts Want Clean Solution
Thomas Built Buses is also offering propane-powered Minotour school buses; the propane autogas school buses are joined in Thomas Built’s alternative fuel vehicles by CNG-versions of the Saf-T-Liner C2 and a CNG-powered Minotour. “We continue to see a trend toward propane autogas as districts look to cut fuel costs and provide a cleaner burning fuel solution to their communities. We have discovered that not one fuel type fits all, however propane autogas has become a serious topic of discussion as districts are looking to lower their total cost of ownership,” said Mario DiFoggio, manager, Center for Education and Marketing at Thomas Built Buses.
Many states are adopting alternative energy incentive programs, which is increasing the number of school districts purchasing propane autogas buses, according to PERC. In Texas, Friendswood ISD is increasing its propane bus fleet with 15 new Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 buses and Spring Branch ISD will have 69 propane Saf-T-Liner C2 buses delivered. In Arizona, Kyrene ISD has added 37 propane Saf-T-Liner C2 to replace old diesel buses.
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Source: Fleets & Fuels interviews with Daimler, CleanFuel USA, and Powertrain Integration