Students in the Omaha and Millard districts will be riding to and from school in a new, propane-powered fleet of buses operated by a new transportation company beginning next August.
Both the Millard and Omaha Public Schools boards on Monday approved a four-year agreement with Student Transportation of America, which will replace longtime bus contractor First Student. The agreement includes an option for a two-year extension.
The districts' agreements fall under a $25 million annual contract with the Metropolitan Omaha Education Consortium Interlocal Transportation Association. Student Transportation of America submitted the lowest bid for the contract. The OPS portion will be $19.5 million a year, an annual savings of about $300,000. Millard will pay the remaining $5.5 million. First Student's contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 school year. It has held the contract for about 20 years.
Student Transportation of America, a subsidiary of Student Transportation Inc., based in Wall, N.J., will provide about 530 vehicles, including more than 400 new, fuel-efficient, propane-powered vehicles, making it the largest propane-fueled bus fleet in the country.
Powering buses with propane, company officials said, not only taps a domestic energy source but also produces up to 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. The company estimated that OPS will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.3 million pounds a year. That will help OPS meet a goal of reducing its carbon footprint. Burning propane also provides savings on fuel and maintenance costs.
“We realize the savings, plus it's green,” said David Patton, an OPS spokesman.
The company plans to open at least three facilities in the metropolitan area. It also will offer all existing employees opportunities to continue with Student Transportation of America.
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