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School bus

As Americans continue to embrace the idea of alternative fuels there is one fuel that, even though it’s not topping the headlines, is slowly becoming the alternative fuel of choice. That fuel is propane. Trucking companies and landscapers are finding that running their vehicles on propane is cost efficient while also lowering their carbon footprint. However, in the last few years school buses have joined the trucks and lawnmowers by looking to propane to power its engines.

According to the New York Times, 19 out of the top 25 school bus markets include propane-powered vehicles as a portion of their fleet. These markets include New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia and Phoenix (Cardwell, 2015). Recently, Boston added itself to that list by adding 86 propane AutoGas buses to its fleet. This accounts for 11 percent of its 2015-2016 fleet with a plan in place to replace the rest of their diesel fleet with propane buses over the next couple of years (Lobello, 2015).

However, this movement is not just limited to large cities. It is also making its way out to smaller markets like Grand Junction, Colorado, Bibb County, Georgia (half-hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia), and Radnor Township, Pennsylvania. Grand Junction signed a contract to spend $30 million over the next 5 years to add 122 new propane buses to their fleet, while Bibb County is adding another 20 more propane buses to the 33 propane-fueled buses they’re currently running (Cardwell, 2015). As of May 20, 2015, Radnor Township has decided to replace four buses a year of its current 63 bus fleet (Stein, 2015).

So why this big push toward propane? A lot of school districts are finding that while diesel buses are loud and toxic, the propane-fueled busses are odor-free and run much quietly (Stein, 2015). Other considerations school districts are taking under account are:

  • AutoGas buses create 80% less smog producing hydrocarbons than diesel vehicles (Lobello, 2015).
  • AutoGas buses reduce greenhouse gases by 15% when compare to diesel (Stein, 2015) and 22% when compare to gasoline-powered buses (Cardwell, 2015).
  • There is a savings of at least $1 per gallon at the pump along with lower maintenance costs since AutoGas has cleaner burning properties (Lobello, 2015). EPA rules have made it harder and harder to keep a diesel engine up to snuff.

So are we seeing a new revolution in alternative fuels? It seems so. It seems that, moving forward, propane will be doing more than powering barbecues and heating homes. It seems like it’s heading toward being the fuel that will power our vehicles too.

Stein, L. (2015). Radnor Township School District Eyes Propane Powered School Buses. Mainline Media News. Retrieve from: http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2015/05/26/main_line_suburban_life/news/doc555f55d9f16a0249917226.txt#.VWYg0MlFul4.twitter

Green – Cardwell, D. (2015). Schools Turn to Propane Buses as Stricter Emissions Standards Loom. New York Times. Retrieve from: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/22/automobiles/wheels/schools-turn-to-propane-buses-as-stricter-emissions-standards-loom.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Lobello, J. (2015). Boston Public Schools Shift to Propane Buses. Business Wire. Retrieved from: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150520006634/en/Boston-Public-Schools-Shift-Propane-Buses#.VW4Xw89VhBc


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