Illinois School District, Contractor Add 20 New Propane-Powered School Buses


School bus contractor Cook-Illinois Corporation took the keys to 20 new 78-passenger Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision school buses for customer Berkeley School District No. 87 during a ceremony.

School district representatives were joined by those from Blue Bird, the City of Chicago, Central Bus Sales, the Propane Energy Resource Council, Amerigas and the Chicago Clean Cities Coalition at the event that also featured a propane fueling demonstration. Blue Bird said Cook-Illinois is no stranger to adopting alternative fuel technology, as it was one of the first school bus contractors to utilize CNG buses in the 1970s. A decade later the company began using the industry’s first adaptation of propane technology.

The company also uses biodiesel and has hybrid-electric buses among its fleet of 2,100 school buses. The company transports 400,000 students each day in the Chicago metro and Northern Indiana areas.

“Cook-Illinois is very excited to provide Berkeley School District with environmentally friendly school buses utilizing the industry’s most innovative propane autogas solution provided by Blue Bird,” said John Benish, Jr., chief operating officer for Cook Illinois Corporation. “We are thrilled to get back to powering school buses with propane autogas as it is a safe and efficient source of fuel that is a perfect fit for the yellow school bus industry.”

The 20 new lower-emission buses will soon be traveling around the surburb 25 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. Blue Bird said the Visions with propane-autogas fuel systems from ROUSH CleanTech and 6.8-liter Ford engines will emit 60 percent less carbon monoxide, 12 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent less nitrogen oxide and up to a quarter less greenhouse gases than gasoline.

The company added that its propane customers typically average about $3,000 to $3,500 in fuel savings when compared to higher priced gasoline or diesel.

“Blue Bird school buses fueled by propane autogas reduce emissions, lower operating costs, decrease noise and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said John Kwapis, chief operating officer of Blue Bird Corporation. “The Propane-Powered Vision is a smart choice for any school system, and Cook-Illinois is an emerging leader in this technology for the state of Illinois.”