Propane School Buses and the New Normal
As school districts work through the myriad challenges of the 2020-21 academic year, one obstacle to overcome is the safe transportation of students—for those districts who have opted for in-classroom learning in some form.
Social distancing guidelines will require fewer children per bus, and some districts may need more school buses to transport students during this “new normal.”
With the budgets of most school districts under tremendous strain because of the necessity of implementing CDC-recommended safety protocols, some are turning to autogas-powered school buses for an answer to their cost-cutting needs.
How propane cuts autogas costs
Savings from adding propane school buses to a fleet come in a variety of ways.
- Autogas costs less per gallon than diesel or gasoline — and that’s before factoring in possible rebates, incentives, grants and loan on both the state and federal levels.
- Propane is 93% more cost-effective compared to the best-in-class diesel, costing only 19-cents per mile compared to diesel at 80-cents per mile.
- Oil and filter changes cost less with autogas, because autogas buses need less engine oil to operate and use less expensive filters that need to be changed less often.
- Diesel fuel can freeze in cold weather. That means clogged fuel lines and filters, which takes a bus out of commission. Repairs and scrambling to cover that bus’s route can get expensive. To prevent this problem with diesel buses, districts have to pay thousands of dollars for anti-gelling additives or even engine block heaters. Autogas-powered buses don’t need those, and take much less time to warm up.
- School buses fueled by autogas can last 30,000 miles longer than a diesel-powered bus.
- Many propane suppliers will work with fleet owners to create a contract that allows districts to lock in a set price per gallon for the year.
Safety and health
Autogas also enhances school bus safety. Engines that run on autogas are much quieter, meaning the students don’t have to yell to converse with their friends, and the driver can better hear what’s going on both inside and outside the bus.
New autogas school buses also come with an option for ultra-low nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions; ultra-low means 90% cleaner than most stringent current EPA standards.
Even with the advent of new “clean diesel,” autogas is still the top choice for school bus fuel when it comes to minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
Source: Propane Education and Research Council.