Our privacy policy has changed. By using this site, you agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Dismiss
Commenting login:
  • Log-in Edit profile
  • Register Logout

Advertisement

School buses look at fuel savings in wake of gas prices

Idle reduction technology, adopted 'green' buses performing a little below expectations

April 27, 2011

Oconomowoc Area Schools — As fuel prices continue to climb, efforts to curtail consumption are ongoing at Oconomowoc Transport Company (OTC).

The bus company has advanced "greener" options in its determination to reduce emissions and fuel costs.

Last year the company purchased 11 hybrid school buses with a $1.84 million grant from the Governor's Office of Energy Independence ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act).

OTC's buses traverse the school district which is 135 square miles, or six times the size of New York City, delivering approximately 3,500 to 4,000 students to and from school each day.

In addition to the green fleet, the company utilized funds available through the state Department of Natural Resources for idle reduction technology.

"We put auxiliary heaters on the bus, eliminating the need to idle buses to warm them up and also during the times they are parked at school or out at field trips, which helps improve air quality," OTC Chief Executive Officer Sandy Syburg said.

In a large commercial vehicle like a school bus, the diesel engine uses a half gallon of fuel per hour to idle.

"These heaters saved us about a half hour to an hour a day per bus," he explained.

"It saved, during winter months, as much as 25-30 gallons of fuel per day. That doesn't happen year round, just in the winter months," he added.

Syburg said the technology is in 75 percent of the fleet.

The performance of the hybrids, which were projected to get approximately 12 miles per gallon, is still being evaluated.

"We're still assessing and improving things. The hybrids are performing a little below the expectations that the manufacturer gave us, but the manufacturer's working with us," to improve that, Syburg said.

"The savings are very route specific. For fuel savings, it's the lowest average speed and the highest number of stops per mile," that generates the greatest fuel savings, he explained.

"We have 11 of the hybrids on routes that meet that criteria and match best for the highest savings," Syburg added.

The hybrids were expected to increase fuel mileage by 70 percent and reduce emissions by the same amount.

Standard school buses get approximately seven to eight miles per gallon; initial projections were that the hybrids would get 12.

The idle reduction technology and the hybrid buses soften the blow of escalating fuel costs related to driving 3,600 miles a day.

Those savings, in turn, reduces the burden on the school district budget, which pays for the fuel.

"We agree with OTC's calculations. Fuel savings are approximately 65 percent of their expected target level in this first year of service. These are hybrid buses, so when the battery systems did not operate properly, the buses ran on conventional diesel power, which of course reduces the fuel savings.

"These hybrid buses are expected to be in service for ten years, so time will tell whether they can achieve the fuel savings they were designed for once the technical issues have been resolved," said Mike Barry, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for the Oconomowoc Area School District.

"Remember that the hybrid buses came at no extra cost to the school district. They were funded by a grant won by OTC. So, from that perspective, any fuel savings is a bonus for the school district," he added.

Syburg noted further positive environmental factors related to school buses are that riding a school bus eliminated the need for 35 cars on the road, on average, which reduces emissions, congestions and fuel usage.

"One of the best ways to save on fuel is to have children ride the bus," he said.

Syburg said with the utilization of computer routing software, they are always searching for ways to optimize courses.

"If there is an opportunity due to a child moving or road construction, we'll modify routes to reduce the miles traveled," after providing notification to families, he added.

"We re-evaluate every season to make sure it's done in the most efficient manner," Syburg said.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Special Sections

See all special sections

2015 Destination Oconomowoc" special section:

 

 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Joe Hite: 7 p.m. May 27, Okauchee Lake Yacht Club, W340 N6338 Breezy Point Road, Oconomowoc. 7 to 11 p.m. Joe Hite will perform, and all proceeds will benefit the Okauchee Fireworks Fund. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Minimum $10 per person.

Burgundy Ties Plays: 8 p.m. May 28, Bucky’s Lakeside Pub and Grill, 50n 35016w Wisconsin Ave, Okauchee. The combination of their eclectic sound and live performance makes Burgundy Ties stand out as an original and inspired Milwaukee band. Visit www.burgundytiesband.com. Free.

Duck/Homemade Boat Race: 10 a.m. May 28, Nixon Park, 339 Maple Ave., Hartland. Races start at 11 a.m. There will be food for sale as well as other family-friendly activities. Entry fee per race is $5 and $1 to purchase a duck. All proceeds go to saving the swifts and to the Ice Age Trail. For rules and information, visit www.savetheswifts.com.

Rummage Sale: 9 a.m. May 26-27; 8 a.m. May 28, Rummage Sale, N41W29213 Prairie Wind Circle South, Pewaukee. Volunteers and donations needed. We will supply tax donation forms to donors. Anything not sold will be donated to Goodwill and Lake Country Caring.

All weekend happenings

 

Advertisement