REGINA — A rainy morning under a couple of tents surrounded by yellow school buses next to Ècole St. Mary School was the scene as the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) introduced the new Blue Bird propane-fuelled school buses.
“Eighty per cent fewer emissions, warmer cabins, better starting profile for the winter; they’re equipped with all the technology: engine diagnostics, GPS controls and satellite mapping and routing, full camera system so that we can ensure 100 per cent reliable safe and timely transportation,” said David White, one of the principals with LP3 Transportation Solutions, with which the RCSD has contracted for its school bus service.
Four buses are specially equipped for wheelchair passengers. White said it was the mission and values of the Regina Catholic School Division that led the company to bid for the contract.
“We at LP3 are honoured to be partnering with the Regina Catholic School Division. Since the beginning when we were choosing which school divisions we would like to put in a proposal it was a match with the mission and values of Regina Catholic School Division that we could get behind and honour,” said White in addressing the gathering.
Ward Hepting, another principal in the company, said the “L” in the company name is from the parent company, Legacy group of companies headquartered in Saskatoon and the “p3” stands for purpose, passion and promise. White said the company is employee-owned and the new bus drivers will have the opportunity, if they wish, to become shareholders. LP3 hired most of the those who drove for First Student, the company that held the bus transportation contract previously.
The buses will transport about 5,000 elementary school students on 83 routes throughout the city. The buses are more efficient and cheaper to operate than traditional, diesel-fuelled buses. “They burn cleaner and have less wear on the engine so maintenance costs are lower, and propane is cheaper than gasoline or diesel,” said Jess Henderson of Roush Cleantech, the company that provided the fuel operating system.
The new buses and a revamping of the bus routes provided the division with a “cost avoidance” of about $650,000, said superintendent of Business, Finance and Technology, Curt Van Parys. “The government has asked us to find efficiencies and this is one area where we did.”
Director of Education Domenic Scuglia said the new buses are quieter and more environmentally friendly. “Our faith asks us to be environmental stewards and we are really excited about the way that LP3 partnered with the bus company to offer fuel efficiency and also considerate to the environment. That’s important in teaching our students environmental stewardship and we want our students to make that a priority in their lives.”