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such as high-efficiency turbochargers, low-restriction af- ter-treatment systems, EGR coolers and charge-air coolers. They’ll also work to reduce parasitic or friction losses


within the engine (oil and water pumps, engine gear train, piston rings, etc.). Such improvements to engines will apply across the board, with all manufacturers trying to optimize their engines to meet the regulations.


The Vehicle For the school bus chassis, it’s about the possibility of


weight reduction, reducing parasitic losses and maxi- mizing drivetrain efficiency. Bus manufacturers will be using low-rolling-resistance tires, tire pressure mon- itoring systems, high-efficiency axles and powertrain enhancements. Mild hybridization is another possibility, so transmission changes will factor in as well.


How Much Will All of This Cost? All of the changes coming our way between 2021 and 2027 are, of course, targeted at lowering GHG emissions and improving fuel efficiency. The changes will add cost to the vehicle, but manufacturers are saying that the fuel savings will offset the cost. We can only hope so, because emissions reduction technology that has been implemented from 2006 through 2018 has added to the cost of all school buses.


Impact of Electric It is a fact that all current school bus manufacturers


make available viable engine and fuel technologies that meet or exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agen- cy’s (EPA’s) 2010-2018 emission standards. They include Type C buses that are available with clean diesel, gaso- line, propane, natural gas (CNG and LNG) and electric. The only emission mandate being debated by various


regulatory agencies that may challenge future school bus power plant choice is “ZE,” or zero tailpipe emissions, as only full electric power plants can achieve it. Electri- fication is a key new technology piece that was recently added to the school bus purchase option. One way or another, ZE is going to be part of the school bus future. That’s because regulatory pressures mount to further eliminate near-zero greenhouse gases from tailpipe emissions, as demonstrated by the EPA releasing its “Cleaner Truck Initiative.” That mandate will force cutting diesel NOx emissions


from 0.2 g/bhp to 0.02. Details from the EPA on its “final rule” timetable are due to be released in 2020.


Today’s Choices: Consider the Lifecycle Impact It is time our industry stops using the term alternative fuel, and start referring to the numerous power plants and


fuel sources our bus manufacturers offer as fuel choice. Take the optimal fuel and optimal engine design, and put them together to match your operational efficiency goals.


Those Goals Should Include: • Cold start • Fleet commonality • Fuel cost • Fuel economy • Fueling infrastructure • Funding (grants) • Maintenance cost • Miles traveled • Power • Quietness • Residual value • Tailpipe emissions •Warranty


As we approach the beginning of another school year,


with planning for bus replacement and fleet manage- ment challenges, today’s options for fleet choice are so numerous and varied. You can be assured to find one that is best suited for your local operational needs. At the same time, you can be assured that the bus you


purchase is economically capable of lifecycle compliance with not only forecasted operating cost, but also clean air emissions standards that help keep our air clean. As you meet with informed bus manufacturer dealers and their fuel choice representatives, you will learn the benefits that an optimal engine and fuel choice could deliver in your operating area. After evaluating the bene- fits, you should also talk with industry peers who use the fuel choice you are considering, so you can learn how their changes affected their operational goals. Most importantly, your fuel choice, future fleet re- placement strategy and purchasing decision should be predicated on the impact it will have on the overall life expectancy of the new buses that are being placed in your transportation program. A year and a half doesn’t constitute a long time, in terms of vehicle technology evolution. With the pressure of compliance penalties for OEMs, you can bet they are busy today drawing up specifications for trucks that are covered by GHG Phase 2. Be an educated consumer by researching, exploring and asking questions of everyone you know who is involved in our industry. ●


Robert T Pudlewski has over four decades of experience in the school bus industry. He is the retired vice president of fleet operations, procurement and maintenance for Laidlaw and is a member of the NSTA Hall of Fame.


www.stnonline.com 45


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