PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools (PPS) is reportedly seeing cost savings as a result of running many of the buses in its fleet on propane.
The district began exploring alternative fuels in the 1980s because of high gas prices and clean air regulations. In 1983, PPS converted several buses to run on propane and found that it was more cost-effective than conventional fuels and burned cleaner, resulting in less engine maintenance and reduced emissions. Shortly thereafter, the district converted most of its buses to run on the fuel.
PPS currently operates some of its own buses and contracts with First Student to provide additional transportation services. Eighty percent of all the buses are fueled by propane.
(As SBF previously reported, the district began running its first propane-powered Type A school buses from Collins Bus Corp. in October 2010.)
In terms of maintenance benefits, PPS’ Fleet Maintenance Supervisor Melvin Philbrook said that the propane-powered buses run up to 30,000 miles longer than buses fueled by gasoline.
The district is also saving through lower fuel costs. “PPS’ projections for 2012 show a 50-percent savings for its propane autogas purchases when compared to those for gasoline,” added Andy Leibenguth, transportation director for the district.
Within the next several years, the school district expects its contracted bus provider to buy a considerable number of new buses, all of which will be factory-built to run on propane. Leibenguth said First Student is expecting delivery of 90 propane-powered NexBus units from Collins Bus Corp.
PPS also began installing upgraded fuel dispensing equipment to support its onsite refueling infrastructure. The new station will allow two buses to be fueled at once and will track miles per gallon for each bus, as well as district fuel cost savings.