Kansas City, Kansas Public School Buses Going Green

Grants help purchase 47 Thomas Built CNG buses

High Point, N.C. – The Kansas City Kansas Public School District has purchased 47 Thomas Built HDX rear engine buses, powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). Acquisition of the buses, infrastructure and equipment was made possible by a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (award DE-EE0002538) distributed through the Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition and matching funds from Kansas City Kansas Public Schools.

Ken Hedgecock, vice president of sales, marketing and service for Thomas Built Buses said, "Many forward-thinking customers are taking advantage of opportunities to build cleaner, greener fleets, and to address their long-term concerns about the price of diesel fuel. There’s about a $1 a gallon advantage in CNG over diesel, and that really adds up when you’re running a fleet of school buses. In addition, low finance rates and lower maintenance costs can sweeten the deal, generating substantial savings."

The most recent order for Thomas Built CNG buses were purchased through Midwest Bus Sales, the Thomas Built dealer for Kansas, Oklahoma, western Missouri and Illinois.

The school district worked closely with Scott Kincaid, Midwest Bus Sales lease manager. Kincaid said:"Thomas responded to the school district’s request for bids with information on both hybrids and CNG buses. The school district chose CNG, in part because they liked the idea of using domestically-sourced CNG, rather than imported diesel fuel."

Kincaid credits George Taylor, director of Transportation for the school district, as a "forward thinker who figured out how to negotiate the complex grant process."

Midwest delivered one pilot model September 1, 2010. "By late November, we had five buses for training. The drivers are raving about the buses’ great turning radius and maneuverability," said Taylor.

The rest of the buses will be delivered before the end of the year, and they’ll be put into service when the infrastructure is completed in early 2011. Infrastructure, also part of the grant, is comprised of 35 time-fill dispensers, with dual hoses allowing each station to fuel two buses at a time. A time-fill arrangement allows buses to fill up overnight without any personnel being present, saving staff time and personnel cost. Taylor explained that, "with curbside access to fuel, drivers hook up buses at the end of the day and in the morning buses are fueled and ready to go. There’s room for another 23 buses sometime in the future."

And Taylor’s already looking toward the future. "I want other school districts to see the advantages of CNG buses. My dream is for the district’s fleet of large buses to be 100 percent CNG." With 47 new CNG buses in its fleet of 80 large buses, Taylor’s already more than halfway there.

Thomas Built Buses (www.thomasbus.com) is the leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with more than one-third of the market. Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line in 1936, the company has been committed to delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America.

Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer of class 4-8 vehicles. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Daimler Trucks North America is a Daimler company.

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