Florida School District Saving $600K with Propane Buses

Broward County representatives accept a clean transportation award from Florida Gold Coast Clean Cities Coalition in May 2014 for purchasing 98 autogas Blue Bird school buses. The district has added 37 new propane buses for the new school year.

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) in South Florida said a recent analysis of its operations uncovered that the district’s new propane school buses are slashing costs when it comes to fuel and maintenance.

The Student Transportation and Fleet Services Department said it reduced its annual operating costs by over $600,000 through the use of school buses fueled by propane autogas. The district began using 98 of the propane autogas fueled Blue Bird school buses last school year. As a result, Broward County ordered another 37 Blue Bird Propane Visions for the 2015-2016 school year.

“Providing safe and efficient transportation for our students is always our priority,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. “The fuel and maintenance savings from our buses using propane autogas has allowed us to reduce our expenses for transporting students to and from school.”

The district paid an average of $1.32 per gallon to fuel the 98 propane buses versus $2.75 per gallon to fuel the other 1,171 diesel buses in the fleet over the past year. BCPS said it expects to save more than $74,000 in operating costs over the 12-year lifecycle of each propane autogas bus, which equates to a 38 cents per mile savings. 

The analysis also shows annual maintenance costs for the propane buses was 80 percent less than for their diesel buses. The 98 propane autogas bus fleet is also better for the environment, as 153,000 fewer pounds of nitrogen oxide and 3,100 less pounds of particulate matter are emitted each year compared to the diesel buses they replaced.

“After researching the direction of school bus transportation, we decided propane was the best fit and the best use of taxpayer dollars,” said Patricia Snell, director of student transportation and fleet services for BCPS. “We’ve been thrilled with the savings, as well as the performance of the buses.”

BCPS budgeted for a six-month return on investment of the initial propane engine upcharge, but succeeded in recouping that cost in three months. The Blue Bird Propane Vision buses had an incremental cost of less than 3 percent more than their diesel counterparts.

“The budget-conscious decisions made by Broward County Public Schools means their students ride cleaner, cost-effective buses that emit less harmful pollutants,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech, the manufacturer of the engine fuel system. “Propane autogas is a smart, versatile and American-made fuel choice that is beneficial for all school districts.”