Buses running on propane make positive economic impact

As the first Missouri school district to add propane buses to its fleet, the Fort Zumwalt School District was featured on the July cover of School Transportation News.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a leader in green transportation technology. We’re doing our part for our students, our community and for the environment,” said Laura Wagner, assistant to superintendent-PR/Media.

Eight propane-fueled buses transported students on regular routes for the district last school year. The district will add another 22 propane-fueled buses to the fleet when school starts on Aug. 14.

With 18 percent of the fleet running on alternative fuel, drivers, mechanics and fuel technicians all have been through training on the new equipment. The district currently has 198 drivers and monitors, including substitutes. In addition to the 30 propane-fueled buses, the district has 138 diesel buses in its fleet.

“Only those drivers who bid on the appropriate routes or who will be driving the appropriate routes were trained on the propane buses,” said Wagner.

Wagner said there are many benefits to using propane-fueled buses including quieter engines and cleaner burning fuel.

According to the district, propane buses cut 60 percent of the carbon monoxide, 12 percent of the carbon dioxide, 20 percent of the nitrogen oxide and as much as 25 percent of the greenhouse gases their gasoline-powered predecessors used.

Lower fuel costs will also save the district about $3,000 per propane bus annually, according to Chief Financial Officer Jeff Orr. The district saved an estimated $24,000 for the eight propane buses in operation last year.

Propane buses get about four miles per gallon and diesel gets about six miles per gallon, but the cost difference in fuel is significant. Last school year, diesel fuel averaged about $3.34 per gallon while propane fuel averaged $1.35 per gallon.

“The district receives a 50-cent tax credit per (propane) gallon, making the effective cost 85 cents per gallon,” Orr said.

For the 2013-14 school year, Orr estimates the district will save about $90,000 in fuel costs.

The district plans to add even more propane buses to its fleet in the future. By 2018, the district hopes to have between 100 to 125 propane-fueled buses in service.

They're here! Shelton, Conn., officials get first look at new propane school bus


A new Shelton propane-powered school bus.

All 60 propane buses that will be used to transport students to and from Shelton schools in the upcoming school year have been delivered.

On Thursday, school administrators and BOE members had a chance to take a ride on one of the city-owned, propane-powered buses. It was used to take them back and forth from the central office to Shelton Intermediate School so they could take a tour of the summer school program.

“Now we know there’s actually a bus,” joked School Supt. Freeman Burr when the propane bus pulled into the central office parking lot. “And when it’s a bus with Mickey Mantle’s number, everything is good.”

The bus used for the trip was No. 7, the same number worn by New York Yankee baseball great Mickey Mantle.

‘Powered by propane’

The bus looked like any other new, yellow-colored school bus, with the exception of a logo on the side that says “Powered by Propane” and the words “Liquefied Petroleum Gas” printed next to the fuel tank.

(Story continues below)


Click below to see more photos of the new buses:



Burr said while it the new buses may not look different, they don’t use gasoline and they have state-of-the-art Roush engines. “There’s some giddy-up here,” he said.

The new buses also have built-in security camera systems.


The 60 buses are being kept at a facility in Seymour while they are serviced, inspected and registered. The facility is owned by All-Star Transportation, the company that has been the bus service contractor for the Shelton Public Schools. All-Star is being replaced in the new school year by Landmark Student Transportation, a competing company.

Once registered, the 60 buses will be moved to the Shelton school bus yard on Riverdale Avenue.

Burr said the bus inspections, done through the state Department of Motor Vehicles, could begin as soon as late this week.

The new school year in Shelton will start on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Saving on fuel costs

Mark Holden, BOE chairman, was among those who checked out the new propane bus. “It’s been many years since I’ve been on one of these,” he said with a laugh, as he stepped inside the bus.

Holden said using propane will save money. “They are supposed to be much more cost effective to run — and that’s encouraging,” he said. “Anything we can do to get a bigger bang for the buck is good for Shelton taxpayers.”

The city purchased the buses as a way to try to save money on school transportation costs, including on fuel and service provider costs (drivers and routes), although some skeptics have questioned how substantial the savings will be in the end.

Omaha-area districts get new propane school buses

OMAHA -- Students, parents and drivers should notice a quieter, greener ride aboard school buses in the Omaha and Millard school districts this fall.

The districts have a new fleet of 435 propane-powered school buses.

Bus company officials said it's the largest propane school bus fleet in the country, ahead of the Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles Unified school districts.

Even taxpayers should notice a difference, because the buses will bring a fuel savings. The environmentally conscious will note the buses spew 60 percent less carbon monoxide than diesel buses.

"This is a game-changer in our industry," David Prince, the Omaha general manager of Student Transport of Nebraska, said Friday at the company's new facility in Omaha.

Denis Gallagher, chairman and chief executive officer of Student Transport Inc. of Wall, N.J., said he'd been working with bus manufacturer Blue Bird during the past five years to perfect the propane buses.

Blue Bird's assembly plant in Fort Valley, Ga., has been making the new fleet's buses for two months. The last bus is scheduled to arrive Wednesday to a ribbon-cutting ceremony that Gov. Dave Heineman is scheduled to attend.

Gallagher said the price of propane buses had run higher than traditional buses, but the large order for Millard and Omaha brought the price down.

The Millard and Omaha school boards approved a four-year, $25 million-a-year agreement with the company, which replaced longtime bus contractor First Student. The Omaha Public Schools portion will be $19.5 million a year, an annual savings of about $300,000 from the previous contract. Millard will pay the remaining $5.5 million. The agreement includes an option for a two-year extension.

The company is contracting locally with Sapp Bros. to provide the propane.

Propane buses get between 5 and 6 mpg, compared to diesel buses' 7 to 8 mpg, but propane's lower price still makes for savings, Gallagher said.

Propane costs about $1.60 a gallon; diesel costs about $3.65 a gallon.

Va.-based propane project expects to hit goal of converting 1,200 vehicles by its end in Dec.

Va.-based propane project expects to hit goal of converting 1,200 vehicles by its end in Dec.


HARRISONBURG, Va. — A Virginia-based project expects to meet its goal of converting 1,200 vehicles in the Southeast to propane.

The Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program has converted 1,000 vehicles since it began in December 2009, including 126 in Virginia. The $20 million program will end in December 2013.


Virginia Clean Cities is managing the program for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The goal is to encourage people to switch from gasoline to propane.

Executive director Alleyn Harned tells The Daily News-Record (http://bit.ly/12P4qyC ) that propane emits less carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide than gasoline. It also costs about $1.50 less per gallon than gasoline.

Thirty-seven propane fuelling stations have been installed across Virginia.

 Ariz. school district adds 61 autogas buses to fleet, eyes more

Arizona's largest school district, Mesa Public Schools, has purchased 61 additional propane autogas-powered buses, bringing its autogas-fueled fleet to a total of 89. "We plan to keep coming back for more until we are 100 percent propane-powered. These propane autogas buses have surpassed our expectations in how smooth and effortless they run and how easy they are to service," said Transportation Director Ron Latko. "We are fortunate to have bond funds for this purchase. But moving forward, the funds for new bus acquisitions will come from the unbelievable fuel savings we experience from our existing propane autogas buses," he said. STNOnline.com (6/4), NGT News (6/5) altLinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

 Ga. municipalities consider using propane autogas

  • Bartow County, Ga., Commissioner Steve Taylor invited representatives from Roush CleanTech and Alliance AutoGas last week to educate school and city officials about the benefits of propane autogas. "It looks like the future is in propane and natural gas. Infrastructure cost is much, much less with propane and natural gas ... and it looks to me like there could be some tremendous savings using propane instead of gasoline," Taylor said. The Daily Tribune News (Cartersville, Ga.) (5/25)

 Propane-fueled fire pits set major trend among U.S. homeowners

Propane-fueled fire pits are a growing trend among U.S. homeowners who want to extend their homes into their backyards. "You don't have to actually build the fire, but you still have the great look of the flames," said Home Depot's Stacey Spillman. In a recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects, fire pits and fireplaces were second only to backyard grills among outdoor design features expected to be most popular in 2013. The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) (5/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

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