Alternative Fuel FAQ

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PROPANE AUTOGAS

What is propane?
Propane is a nontoxic, colorless, and odorless gas produced from natural gas processing and crude oil refining. At ambient (normal) temperature it is a gas and a liquid under pressure. It emits fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel.

Is propane safe?
Yes, propane is a safe alternative fuel that is nontoxic and nonpoisonous. Propane has a narrow range of flammability and because it is released as a vapor from a pressurized container it cannot be ingested like gasoline or alcohol fuels. The propane vehicle tanks are tested to four times the normal operating pressures, and are 20 times as puncture resistant as gasoline tanks.

Is propane dangerous to the environment?
No. Propane is an approved clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and 2005. Propane is one of the cleanest burning fuels of all fossil fuels. Tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that propane fueled vehicles produce 30 percent to 90 percent less carbon monoxide and about 50 percent fewer toxins and other smog-producing emissions than gasoline engines. Propane is also nontoxic, so it’s not harmful to soil, water or humans.

How readily available is propane?
With approximately 70,000 miles of interstate pipelines and more than 2,500 public and 10,000 private refueling locations throughout the United States, propane is readily available. Additionally, more than 90 percent of the U.S. propane supply is produced at existing domestic facilities, reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

What are the benefits of using a propane-powered bus?
Benefits include reduced fuel costs, tax credits, lower emission levels, fewer oil changes, and better performance among alternative fuel vehicles. The Propane-Powered Vision and Micro Bird Buses provide school districts with another fuel option besides diesel, gasoline, and CNG.

How does propane affect the engine’s performance?
Fleet operators report horsepower and torque capability roughly comparable to gasoline. One added benefit of propane engines is that they perform exceptionally well in cold weather climates. The fuel is not affected by the lower temperatures like diesel fuel is. This eliminates the need for engine block heaters (and electricity use), and reduces idle time to warm up the engine, reducing emissions and fuel use.

Where do I go to find out more about Propane?
For more information on propane, contact the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) at www.propanefreedom.com. PERC was formed to promote the safe, efficient use of odorized propane gas as a preferred energy source and to educate the public about propane and propane safety.

BENEFITS OF PROPANE

What are the main benefits of purchasing a propane-powered bus?
Our customers continue to be challenged by both reduced capital budgets and operating limitations. Our alternative fuel-experienced OEMs set out to offer you a broad range of benefits to selecting the Propane-Powered Vision for your school bus operation:

  • 40% plus reduction in fuel costs versus gas or diesel
  • 97% of propane fuel is produced domestically, reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil
  • No compromise in OEM warranty
  • No compromise in horsepower and torque
  • Similar operating range to gas and diesel
  • Low cost access to private fueling infrastructure
  • 24% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Vehicles serviced with existing diagnostic equipment
  • Immediate impact to daily import of 11 million barrels of oil
  • POSITIVE ROI WITH AND WITHOUT GOVERNMENT INCENTIVES!

Propane costs less than diesel or gasoline.
With the prices of foreign oil rising, domestically produced propane autogas prices are significantly lower than the cost of diesel or gasoline, and the price is not subject to frequent fluctuations. Propane autogas costs approximately 40-50% less than the cost of diesel fuel.

Additionally, the U.S. offers a 50-cent per gallon tax rebate. That’s right, per gallon! This further reduces the cost of propane and strengthens a customer’s savings by switching to propane autogas.

The infrastructure is typically installed and maintained with no upfront cost.
One of the previous barriers to alternative fuel is the up-front cost of installing alternative fuel infrastructure on-site. Propane autogas infrastructure is very affordable, costing only a fraction of what other alternative-fuel infrastructure stations run. Many times, propane autogas providers will install and maintain an infrastructure stations at no additional cost- or roll it into the price of the propane, make it incredibly affordable!

Propane-powered buses are dependable and easy to maintain.
Built with the same industry-leading best-in-class features, Blue Bird’s Propane-Powered Vision and Propane-Powered Micro Bird G5 give your fleet the same reliability, durability, serviceability and comparable horsepower as our diesel and gasoline options. Additionally, because propane is a clean-burning fuel, our buses exhibit less wear-and-tear on engine components and need less frequent oil changes.

There is an established infrastructure system throughout North America.
With over 2,500+ propane stations throughout the United States alone, buses can be fueled while on route to and from picking up students.

Propane-powered buses save school districts and contractors money.
Due to the affordability of propane-powered buses and the abundance of savings experienced from operating a propane-powered bus, a return-on-investment is usually experienced within 2-3 years. This rapid return provides customers with significant fuel and maintenance savings throughout the life of the bus.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Is propane infrastructure complicated?
To facilitate an effortless purchasing experience, Western Bus Sales has teamed with Ferrellgas to offer customers a plan for purchasing fuel and refueling equipment that is:

Safe: Recognizing that safety is first, the propane fuel marketer will be responsible for training and certifying the proper dispensing of propane motor fuel.

Seamless: The propane marketer will assist customers with providing a seamless set-up experience by not only providing the initial equipment and fuel but also by providing service and maintenance on the equipment as well as any needed training. These combined efforts ensure that fleets maximize on-route time.

Cost Effective: The propane marketers can provide a cost effective infrastructure solution by building the cost of the fuel dispensing equipment and storage tanks (skid system) into a fuel contract. This may eliminate a major capital expense for school districts and other customers.

Most customers who have decided to purchase propane-powered school buses have installed their own fueling infrastructure on site. In many cases, they have worked with Ferrellgas, a propane retailer, to set up the fuel station. Generally, the school district must have an appropriate site for the tank, pour a concrete pad, install crash barriers, and run electricity to the site.

Scalable: The scalable infrastructure program can allow organizations to trade-up equipment as their propane fleets grow. As more dispensers and larger storage tanks are needed, adjustments can be made to accommodate the customer.

Ease of Use: Refueling is simple. Propane’s fueling rate, 5 to 8 gallons per minute is comparable but a bit slower to that of gasoline or diesel. This translates into savings in time and money compared with other alternative fuels like CNG. Because propane is delivered through a sealed system (thereby protecting the environment), a simple threaded connection is used.

Infrastructure Resources: Ferrellgas can be found online at www.ferrellgas.com. Additional propane retailers may be found by visiting www.usepropane.com and clicking on the link “Find A Propane Retailer.”

BLUE BIRD PROPANE POWERED VISION CONVENTIONAL

What is the Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision School Bus?
Blue Bird’s Vision is a conventional Type C school bus that has a 47 to 77 passenger capacity with wheelbases ranging from 189 to 273 inches but instead of operating on diesel, the bus operates on propane.

Why did Blue Bird develop a propane-powered school bus?
Blue Bird developed the Propane-Powered Vision to meet the increasing environmental standards and customer demands. Blue Bird has long provided its customers a choice of diesel engine options, and with the launch of the Propane-Powered Vision, Blue Bird expanded its alternative fuel offerings beyond CNG.

What makes the Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision School Bus different from other school buses currently on the market?
This propane-powered bus provides most of the same body and chassis features as Blue Bird’s conventional Type C bus. The only major difference is that this bus is fueled by propane with ROUSH CleanTech Liquid Propane Autogas Fuel System instead of diesel.

What is the cost of a Propane-Powered Vision Bus?
The Propane-Powered Vision school bus is generally under $5,000 more than a similarly equipped diesel-powered school bus. While the initial cost may be more, when you factor in potential federal and state grants, and the fuel credits you may be eligible to receive, the up-front cost may be negligible. Additionally, the amount of money you save over time in fuel, maintenance and upkeep, is well worth the initial investment.

Will the Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision buses operate on gasoline?
No. The Liquid Propane Autogas fuel system replaces the gasoline fuel system with a propane fuel system. It is designed and engineered to run on propane only.

What type of engine does the Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision School Bus use?
The first generation Propane-Powered Vision used the GM 8.1L Vortec engine with a propane fuel system. Since GM discontinued the 8.1L engine, Blue Bird is now using the Ford 6.8L 3-Valve V-10 engine with the ROUSH CleanTech Liquid Propane Autogas Fuel System.

What is the fuel range of the Propane-Powered Vision?
The fuel range of the Propane-Powered Vision is approximately 300 miles. The fuel tank on the Propane-Powered Vision is 67 gallon useable capacity. On long wheelbase vehicles, there is an extended range tank option that increases the capacity to 98 gallons.

What is the warranty on the Blue Bird?
Many components of the Propane-Powered Vision remain consistent with those of a Diesel-Powered Vision. Service work on these items may be performed through typical channels at the Blue Bird Dealer level. Following is the breakdown of the warranty for this product:

Ford 6.8L engine & transmission – 5 years/unlimited miles
Provider: WBS or Closest Ford Dealer

ROUSH fuel system – 5 years/unlimited miles
Provider: WBS or Certified ROUSH Ford Dealer

Blue Bird’s limited warranty on the Propane-Powered Vision is identical to the standard limited warranty on Diesel-Powered Visions. The warranties for key components of the Propane-Powered Vision are administered by the component manufacturers or suppliers, the same as with Diesel-Powered Visions.

MICRO BIRD PROPANE POWERED G5

What is the Micro Bird by Girardin Propane-Powered School Bus?
Micro Bird by Girardin’s MB-IV bus is a Type A school bus that has a 9 to 30 passenger capacity on a Ford E-450 dual rear wheel 158” wheelbase chassis. Instead of operating on diesel or gasoline, the bus operates on propane. Roush Engineering will prepare the Ford 6.8L gasoline engine to run on Roush’s propane fuel system.

What is the cost of a Propane-Powered Micro Bird by Girardin?
The approximate upcharge over the gasoline engine feature is approximately $15,000 more. While the initial cost is more, when you factor in potential federal and state grants, and the fuel credits you may be eligible to receive, the up-front cost may be negligible. The amount of money you save over time in fuel, maintenance and upkeep, is well worth the initial investment. Additionally, the diesel engine price upgrade has increase significantly due to new EPA emission standards, so the cost of propane over diesel is much less than it is versus gasoline.

Will the Micro Bird by Girardin Propane-Powered school bus operate on gasoline?
No. The Roush propane system replaces the gasoline fuel system with a propane fuel system. It is designed and engineered to run on propane only.

What type of engine does the Micro Bird by Girardin Propane-Powered school bus use?
The bus uses the Ford 6.8L 2-valve V-10 gasoline engine with a propane fuel system.

What is the fuel range of the Micro Bird by Girardin Propane-Powered school bus be?
The fuel range is estimated at 300 miles, and the bus is equipped with a 42 gallon capacity.

Can I get special needs equipment, such as a wheelchair lift or flat floor, with the Propane fuel system?
Yes, a flat floor and wheelchair lift option is available if your requirements dictate that.

What is the warranty on the Micro Bird?
When it comes to service and maintenance of your Roush Propane-Powered Ford E-450 cutaway chassis, you have the support of every Ford dealership in the country. Engineered by the same experts who have worked with Ford powertrain and calibration systems for years, the Roush propane system can be diagnosed and serviced with the same equipment Ford dealerships use to service gasoline-powered vehicles. If you run into a problem with the chassis within the warranty period, take it to your Ford dealership and Roush will work with the service department to get you on the road as fast as possible.

The factory warranty of your Ford chassis is left intact after a Roush propane fuel system is installed:

Powertrain warranty is 5 years / 60,000 miles
Drivetrain warranty is 3 years / 36,000 miles

Micro Bird’s limited warranty on the Propane-Powered School bus is identical to the standard limited warranty on standard fuel buses. For an explanation of Micro Bird’s warranty, refer to the Limited Warranty Certificate included with the bus.