School districts around the U.S. are proudly making the switch to propane autogas school buses. Why? In addition to reducing harmful emissions and operating noticeably quieter, propane autogas buses offer the lowest total cost-of-ownership available — which can have a big impact on students, drivers, and technicians.
Propane autogas buses save more than diesel buses in “the three Fs”: fuel, fluids, and filters. These costs add up over the life of a bus, draining transportation budgets throughout the vehicle’s lifetime. Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas reports it’s saving $1.3 million annually on fuel with its 440 propane autogas buses. However, it’s important for transportation departments to realize total cost-of-ownership includes more than the cost of fuel; the expenses for downtime, spare buses, parts, maintenance and repairs, and infrastructure should be considered, too.
“I could change the oil on a propane bus three times for the cost of one diesel service,” said Brian Urwin, shop manager for Omaha Public Schools, which operates more than 400 propane autogas school buses.
Many transportation directors discover that non-warrantable diesel repairs are unavoidable and replacement parts are expensive. The likelihood of downtime for repairs is even greater with the complex after-treatment systems required for today’s diesel engines. Diesel buses are engineered and designed for minimal idling, and excessive idling increases maintenance requirements and increases the likelihood of unexpected repairs.
Beyond maintenance and the early stages of ownership, propane autogas buses lower a fleet’s total cost-of-ownership in refueling infrastructure is easy to install and affordable. Propane retailers can assist school districts and private contractors to develop the most economical setup for their situation. Propane autogas infrastructure typically uses the same pump and motor to handle larger or a growing number of fuel storage tanks and dispensers — allowing infrastructure to grow as a school district adds buses.
When schools can save more on transportation, they’re in a better position to afford the resources that benefit students directly:
- More teachers, better pupil-teacher ratios and more individualized attention.
- Everyday classroom essentials that may otherwise need to be purchased by teachers.
- Specialized instructors for students.
- Funding for more robust extracurricular activities that enrich students’ education.
Omaha Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jerry Bartee said, “Compared to previous years of using diesel buses, we were able to save right in the neighborhood of about $200,000 plus a year. That’s four or five classroom teachers a year that we can hire to be right there, in front of our kids.”
As a transportation official, you have the power to change schools and communities for the better with propane autogas buses. To learn more about the benefits of these buses, go to propaneschoolbuses.com.