Transportation: CMS leads the way with clean technology

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced it will roll out a new fleet of buses when the new school year begins Aug. 26.

Superintendent Earnest Winston; Adam Johnson, CMS executive director of transportation; and Tucker Perkins, CEO of the Propane Education and Research Council announced the move during a transportation briefing Aug. 14 at the CMS Transportation Lot on Wilkinson Boulevard.

Winston said CMS will be making history with the new fleet of 28 propane-powered buses, which are designed to improve air quality and provide a healthier ride for students. The district will be using more propane buses than any other school district in North Carolina.

Propane can be up to 94 percent lower in harmful emissions that impact air quality and can be harmful to lungs. There are 18,000 propane school buses on routes today in 1,000 school districts in 48 states.

“We commend CMS for its decision to provide students with a propane bus that is safe and quiet for students and cleaner for the environment,” Perkins said. “Propane is an important part of the emerging clean energy economy, and it is an important part of America’s clean energy mix.”

Winston encouraged families to use the bus system and to exercise patience with schedule adjustments in the first few weeks. He also asked parents to reinforce safe habits with their children and for neighbors and motorists to be vigilant as students are traveling to school.

“We want to assure families that safety is our top priority,” Winston said. “We’ve seen a major improvement in all aspects of CMS transportation services and we are working to ensure that all school buses are safe, prepared and ready to roll.”

CMS will begin its second year with the Here Comes the Bus mobile app, a free bus-tracking system that gives real-time bus locations and notification alerts. The district is also relaunching Gus the Bus, which was on display at the briefing.

CMS Transportation facts:

  • About 127,000 riders are expected this year on 1,088 buses.
  • CMS has more students riding school buses than any other school district in North Carolina.
  • Bus routes are mapped across 14 transportation areas.
  • CMS has more than 31,000 school bus stops in the morning and about 31,500 stops in the afternoon.
  • Bus drivers will begin practice runs of their routes Monday, Aug. 19.
  • There were 15 bus-driver vacancies as of yesterday, Aug. 13. Safety and training teams continue to onboard new drivers in cooperation with the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.