A day after a large Texas school district shared how its propane school buses saved $1.3 million on fuel and maintenance, a Florida charter school is eyeing similar savings with its new propane fleet.
The Propane Education & Research Council published a video this week as part of its “Straight Talk” series that features Northside ISD in San Antonio, Texas, which operates one of the largest fleets of propane school buses in the nation. Half of its 916 school buses operate on propane, and the district has 35 years of experience with the alternative fuel, as it was the first district in Texas to embrace propane.
“Propane has been such a good source of fuel for us,” said Brian Woods, superintendent for Northside ISD, in the video. He reported the district is saving $1.3 million a year on maintenance costs and fuel in addition to lowering emissions.
“I don’t see any negatives,” he said.
According to Ric Escobar, Northside’s station manager, the district uses an 18,000-gallon tank at each of its five locations, adding that the district’s mechanics are more comfortable servicing propane buses than their diesel counterparts.
“Knowing the overall cost of maintenance for the buses, propane is less expensive,” Escobar said.
Katie Reed, Northside ISD’s board president, said another selling point of propane buses is they operate more quietly, allowing the bus drivers to better listen to traffic conditions and manage the students on the bus.
PERC said 11,000 propane school buses are now operating in 47 states across the nation, including at KIPP Jacksonville Schools in Florida. The charter school recently deployed its first-ever fleet of school buses, 14 Blue Bird Vision propane vehicles with ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel systems.
KIPP Jacksonville Schools said its intent going forward is to only purchase propane school buses.
“As the size of our campus expanded along with the number of students, it was time to have our own means of transportation,” said Bobby Kennedy, founding transportation manager of KIPP Jacksonville Schools. “We consulted with our Blue Bird dealer, Florida Transportation Systems, on available options, and were impressed by the safe and clean-operating properties of propane-fueled buses.”