The Students of the Earth Care Club may have missed the first bell at today, but they certainly were not late for school.
The fourth and fifth graders of the club arrived extra early today to take part in a hosted by the Concord/Concord Carlisle School District Transportation Department and Blue Bird Corporation, manufacturer of school buses.
According to Concord Transportation Manager Wayne Busa, the propane powered bus is one of several environmentally friendly buses the department is looking at. Busa said he is hoping to have an electric bus visit Concord some time in the near future for a demonstration as well. With 36 buses currently in the fleet, Busa said it would be useful to add another one or two, but has no definite plans of purchasing one any time soon.
This morning's demonstration did not go quite according to plan however, as the bus ran out of propane or experienced some other mechanical issue when the vehicle died shortly after 8 a.m., temporarily stranding the Earth Care Club, Willard Principal Patricia Fernandes, teachers, and transportation personnel on Plainfield Road for approximately 15 minutes. Students remained safely on the bus until another driver arrived with a bus from the Transportation Department's regular fleet to bring everyone back to Willard shortly after 8:30 a.m.
The propane bus, which is a prototype, had already accumulated hundreds of miles traveling from Albany, N.Y. to Concord, N.H. over the weekend, and to Concord, Mass. from Maine this morning without issue, according to Joel Diamon of O'Connor Bus Sales, representing Blue Bird.
Mishaps aside, the demonstration was a positive one for the Earth Care Club, who used the extra time to talk a little about the benefits of the bus, which releases only water vapor as exhaust, and while costs a bit more than a conventional diesel bus, costs less to operate in the long run because of fewer moving parts than a traditional engine system.
Take a look at the photos above to see the Earth Care Club's green school bus adventure.