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America's school buses are getting greener

Thursday, September 03, 2015 - 01:35

Like the passenger car market, alternative fuel options are making inroads. Jeanne Yurman reports.

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School is back in session and those iconic yellow school buses are back on the road. But what's fueling them is changing. While more than ninety percent of all school buses do still run on diesel, many have been retrofitted to run cleaner. And buses that run on alternative fuel are making inroads. The three largest school bus manufacturers, Blue Bird, IC Bus and Thomas Built all offer eco-friendly options. Blue Bird's propane bus sales have grown from zero to 20 percent of their overall sales in seven years. Rivals have also added propane buses -competition CEO Phil Horlock welcomes. SOUNDBITE: PHIL HORLOCK, CEO, BLUE BIRD CORPORATION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I like that because now they're legitimizing the. This isn't just a fad or a boutique product, it's mainstream. And so I think over time you're going to see our 20 percent grow into 30 and you're going to see competition move in. So I do think next four or five years I think you'll see a dramatic increase in the take rate of propane powered buses, alternative fuel in general." Most popular right now? Propane and compressed natural gas while electric is starting to take hold. Like the consumer auto market, conversion to alternative fuel vehicles will take time. Buyers like to stick to what they know. And given budget constraints and the buses' long lifespans it will be a while before America's 380,000 buses go green in a big way. In the meantime, experts say with word of cost savings on fuel and available EPA grants, we'll see the number of eco-friendly school buses grow.

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America's school buses are getting greener

Thursday, September 03, 2015 - 01:35