Smart Schools Run Propane Buses

The momentum is building for propane-autogas-fueled school buses.

The autogas industry just notched a big win in delivering 134 propane-fueled buses to the Portland (Ore.) and Seattle school districts, School Transportation News reported. And remember, Portland schools have been operating autogas-fueled buses for about 20 years. To re-up and buy even more buses is a strong statement of support in these tight financial times.

“Portland and Seattle have chosen a fuel that is powerful, sustainable and domestic, so these cities will enjoy cleaner air and quieter streets, all while using an abundant American fuel,” Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer for the Propane Education & Research Council, told the publication.

Many other school districts are choosing propane autogas.

West Virginia in October approved a request from its state Department of Education that it use propane as an alternative fuel for its school buses, the State Journal reported. Until now, all the state’s school buses have been powered by diesel. The state’s DOE buys about 200 new buses every year, and it looks like a few will run on propane autogas in 2013.

Note that more bus manufacturers are getting behind propane. Thomas Built executive Ken Hedgecock told the Journal that propane is less expensive and cleaner than diesel fuel, leading to greater interest in the upcoming propane-fueled C2 model bus from Thomas.

Manufacturers Blue Bird Corp. and Collins Bus Corp. are already producing propane-fueled buses.

Indeed, a Blue Bird model will be used by Crittenden Co., Ky., as its runs a pilot program using propane-fueled school buses, according to a story in the Crittenden Press in October. The county was impressed with positive data on propane autogas reported by school districts in Indiana and Tennessee as it looked at alternative fuels for its buses.

And just this week, Hall County in Georgia said it would add to the 20 propane-autogas-fueled school buses it bought just last summer. Plans call for adding another 10 propane-autogas buses to its fleet, the Gainsville Times reported.

“We’re still very pleased with them,” Jewel Armour, Hall Co. Schools executive director of operations, told the Times. “The drivers seem to be very pleased. I’ve really heard nothing but good reports from them.”

Armour said the district expects to save big bucks on its fueling costs by using autogas instead of diesel.

That’s seven states — Washington, Oregon, West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, and Tennessee – in the last few months that are using, or switching to, or testing propane autogas school buses.

That’s powerful momentum.

This post is by Burney Simpson, a writer with the Propane Education & Research Council. Visit PERC’s autogasusa.org for more on propane and your fleet.

One comment

  1. Jonathan Overly · · Reply

    More power to ‘em!! Propane works, and school fleets need to look at it carefully because it likely can produce savings for the majority of their well-used vehicles… while it reduces emissions for the kids riding the buses!

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