ADVERTISEMENT More Districts Choose Gasoline School Buses

School transportation departments have been in the business of getting students safely to and from school for decades. Still, there are many hurdles that districts face when seeking new, updated transportation solutions. While initial price is a factor, reliability of cost savings over time is of utmost importance when it comes to school buses; are you still saving money 5-10 years down the road?

“Our transportation department is always assessing our operations in an effort to identify ways in which we can incrementally improve,” said John Grubbs, transportation director for Frederick County Public Schools in Winchester, Virginia. His district recently chose gasoline school buses for its fleet. “The decision to purchase gasoline buses was based on the cost savings they offer, the fact that they can be more easily maintained than diesel buses and the opportunity to be more environmentally friendly.”

Improving the Bottom Line

The choice to replace diesel buses with gasoline models makes sound economic sense. Sales of the Blue Bird Vision Gasoline have grown due to the buses’ low upfront cost and public fueling accessibility. With driver and technician shortages, gasoline is a comfortable and familiar fuel that may help with these gaps as well. Because the gasoline bus has the lowest cost of acquisition, school districts looking to stretch tight budgets find them an ideal choice.

The savings continue beyond the purchase price, as well. Today’s clean diesel buses are still higher-maintenance than other fuel types; requiring at least 15 additional parts that need to be maintained, including diesel particulate filters, diesel exhaust fluid, and other complex after-treatment pieces - not to mention, a manual regeneration. A diesel oil filter itself costs two to three times more than a gasoline oil filter, not to mention requiring significantly more oil during oil changes. Avoiding all the extra parts adds up to savings for districts. Schools can also take advantage of the larger pool of technicians who are skilled with gasoline engines.

Fuel economy and price need to be considered in the equation. The U.S. Energy Information Office expects diesel prices to average over $3.00 per gallon in 2019, driven higher primarily by higher crude oil prices. Gasoline fueling options are readily available. And whether diesel, gasoline or other alternatives, fuel economy varies according to multiple factors, including vehicle speed, amount of idle time, geography, traffic routes, driving habits and maintenance.

In the past, districts could look ahead to resale when making purchasing decisions. Now, due to the complexity of diesel maintenance, the trade-in value for diesel school buses has dropped and continues to decline, according to Christian Flores, school transportation director at Lake Central Schools in Indiana.

Improvements for the Environment

Districts that want to clear the air of diesel’s exhaust and fumes are looking to gasoline buses. While today’s diesel buses are cleaner than in years past, they are cleaner only through complex and expensive equipment and high- maintenance aftertreatment systems. None of that is required on a gasoline bus.

“The Blue Bird Vision Gasoline has offered us a more eco-friendly bus than diesel, with easier and more cost- effective maintenance as well as a quiet and pleasurable drive,” said Brian Gibson, director of transportation for the New Braunfels Independent School District in Texas. “Our mechanics love the Blue Bird Vision Gasoline buses. We have not encountered any issues, and it’s a cost savings for our preventive maintenance compared with our diesel buses. EGRs, DEF and DPF are just some of the expenses that we can now eliminate.”

Built-In Improvements

Since 2016, more than 5,000 Blue Bird Vision Gasoline school buses have been purchased by 1,000 school districts across North America. The Vision Gasoline’s Ford 6.8L engine is built specifically for medium-duty applications. You’ll find this engine, introduced in 1997, in more than 1.8 million vehicles on the road today. The national average lifespan of a school bus is 12 to 15 years, and Blue Bird builds for the long haul.

School districts looking to improve their operations from economic, environmental and efficiency standpoints are taking a fresh look at diesel alternatives, including gasoline, compressed

natural gas, electric and propane-fueled

vehicles. In fact, alternatives to diesel now represent more than 40 percent of Blue Bird’s business. School Bus Fleet recently reported that gasoline buses represented 16 percent of total bus sales, and are the fastest growing segment of the market.

At Blue Bird, we’re committed to the best in school buses. For more information on how we can help you choose the best bus fuel for your fleet, contact your local Blue Bird dealer or visit

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