January 31, 2012


College rolls out new propane buses

Buses with dragon designs highlight campus energy plan to reduce greenhouse gases

CollegeBob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland students board a bus Monday morning near Corey Union. The bus has a new paint scheme and runs on propane fuel.

Staff Reporter

The bus pulled up to a stop on Graham Avenue Monday afternoon, the sun hitting its red and green dragon designs and the slogan “Get Green Vision” on one side.
SUNY Cortland students climbed aboard or exited the bus from the side emblazoned with a large green eye. The other side had a red dragon head toward the front. The back showed green eyes with the slogan “Red Is Green.”
Both sides had the SUNY Cortland logo and the words “Propane Powered.”
The 12 students getting onto the bus said nothing about its exterior, talking only about sports practice, classes or food. But college officials hope the unusual dragon designs on four new buses, including that one, cause students to think about conserving energy by using fuels other than oil-based.
The buses — put on the road in the past two weeks as the spring semester began — are painted with dragon designs and slogans that carry the message they are part of the campus movement to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The college’s athletic teams are known as the Red Dragons, with a dragon mascot named Blaze at sports events and a dragon prowling the huge “C” in the college logo.
SUNY Cortland plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 85 percent by 2050. The Climate Plan includes replacing the campus fleet of eight buses that carry 35 to 42 passengers each.
Three of the new buses are fueled by propane, which burns with less greenhouse gas emission and is cheaper. A fourth runs on diesel fuel and contains a wheelchair lift. The four other buses in the fleet also run on diesel. They are white with the SUNY Cortland logo painted on the sides.
Two of the propane-powered dragon buses are 2012 models and one is a 2009 model. One of them is decorated with claws coming down on the roof and the slogan “Jump on Board.”
The dragon bus powered by diesel is a 2012 model and features a dragon head toward the back, breathing flames the length of the bus, with the slogan “Red Dragon Power.”
The new buses replaced four vehicles that were aged or had a history of mechanical problems, said college spokesman Fred Pierce. After the college decided to replace them, a campus committee that directs marketing efforts chose to add another marketing tool to promote the Climate Plan.
“We had to paint the buses, and we decided to engage the student body and put something on them that was unusual and get a conversation going,” Pierce said. “And we are switching gradually to propane buses, to cut our carbon footprint. We wanted to have that message without hitting the students over the head with it.”
The dragon motifs and environmental messages were developed by marketing and public relations staff, led by Gradin Avery, associate provost for enrollment management. Student focus groups last fall helped to choose the designs and slogans, Pierce said.
The two 2012 propane-power buses cost $120,240 apiece and the 2009 propane-powered bus cost $112,047. The 2012 diesel bus cost $152,679.
Pierce said the cost was offset by trade-in on the four old buses of $92,400.


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