“A little more than 10 percent of our fleet are alter-

native fuel vehicles. Customer needs determine the technologies we deliver,” Ragunathan said. “We also work with them to find funding opportunities. We’ve been offering all the technologies to our customers and what works for the local communities we will support as part of our partnership. We try to minimize the financial impact to customers while improving air quality.” The company’s subsidiaries also run new diesel buses

with biodiesel blends. Student Transportation of America (STA) boasts the

third-largest North American fleet with 16,000 school buses, nearly one-fifth of which are propane. Ron Halley, STA’s vice president of fleet and facilities, said the company is focused on propane, CNG and electric- powered vehicles. “Student Transportation of America is committed to

protecting, preserving and promoting the health and safety of our passengers, employees and the citizens in the communities we serve across North America,” Halley said. “STA is an industry leader in the purchase, deploy- ment and operation of alternative fuel vehicles through the conversion to propane powered vehicles and the use of compressed natural gas.” Halley added that STA has invested millions of dollars

in alternative fuel vehicles in 13 states from coast-to- coast. “This alternative fuel expansion represents our strategy to reduce STA’s carbon footprint throughout the areas we serve and is part of the larger company-wide Think Green initiative.” The sixth largest school bus contractor in the nation and

the largest in Chicago is Cook-Illinois Corporation and its subsidiaries, operating a combined fleet of 2,200 buses, 300 of which are propane. But John Benish, Jr., the com- pany’s co-owner, president and COO, said that propane is nothing new. “We used to run a lot of propane buses in the [1980s],” Benish said. “We’ve been running these [next-generation buses] for about eight or nine years now.” Benish, who is also the president of the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), said his company also runs 1,400 biodiesel school buses daily because of their versatility. The blended fuel derived from soybeans is also easy to obtain. “Biodiesel is a great fuel because it reduces emissions

by more than 25 percent, it’s better for the children and Illinois is one of the largest producers of soybean oil in the country,” Benish said. “The other nice thing about biodiesel fuel is there are no modifications needed to the tanks or to the engines. They are regular diesel buses, the only thing different is the [blend].”

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