For the first time in 42 years, buses displaying the Rockwood School District name are transporting students — while helping to save money and improve air quality. The district expects the shift to save $500,000 in the first year alone.
This summer, the 22,000-student school district purchased 164 buses from Blue Bird dealer Central States Bus Sales, after choosing to end a contract with a transportation company.
“We thought we could do it cheaper by bringing our fleet in-house, when faced with a 15 percent increase in proposed contractor rates for our school transportation requirements,” said William Sloan, director of purchasing and transportation director at Rockwood School District. “We have more control over the operations, procedures and policies, plus there’s improved accountability as the transportation staff are now part of our team.”
The Blue Bird Vision and Blue Bird All American FE clean diesel buses also run on an ultra-low sulfur fuel, the company said.
“For 90 years, Blue Bird has been committed to bringing the latest bus innovations to schools,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “Our customers want to lower operational costs and address environmental concerns. We are here to help.”
The district chose the new clean diesel buses after reviewing all the alternative fuel options. “It was obvious diesel powered buses have become cleaner and get better mileage than previous diesel buses,” Sloan said. “The buses are quiet and burn very clean with very little if any exhaust smoke.”
According to the company, based on preliminary information provided by Rockwood School District from the first few weeks of operation, the Blue Bird All American FE - Diesel buses’ average close to 10 miles per gallon, compared with 7.5 MPG with the older fleet.