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August 29, 2014  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

State Funding, Fuel Savings Drive Propane Bus Adoption in Florida

With reduced operating costs and a rebate program for propane autogas vehicles, Florida school districts are tapping the alternative fuel as an economical and environmental solution. Broward County recently added 98 propane school buses to its fleet.

by Michael Taylor


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A Micro Bird propane autogas school bus drops off students in Florida. School bus operations have been reporting significant fuel and maintenance savings with propane.

A Micro Bird propane autogas school bus drops off students in Florida. School bus operations have been reporting significant fuel and maintenance savings with propane.

Earlier this summer, a National Climate Assessment report identified Miami as the most vulnerable city on the globe when it comes to climate change impacts. Rising sea levels threaten homes and roads, and recent flooding in the state has put Florida at the center of the climate change debate.

Furthermore, a greenhouse gas emissions report from the Southeast Florida Climate Compact shows that harmful emissions from the transportation sector far and away are the greatest contributor of emissions in the state, more than those from residential, commercial or industrial sectors.

However, despite Florida’s current state of environmental affairs, positive action has been taken to cut the carbon footprint in the region. New alternative-fuel legislation has attracted the interest of public and private sector businesses, spurring them to deploy alternatives to fossil fuels. And local school transportation directors, in particular, have led the charge, investing in propane autogas and new school bus technologies as an economical and environmental solution.  

State funding, incentives
Last year, Florida became one of 22 states to adopt a rebate program for the purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles. The Natural Gas and Propane Fuel Fleet Vehicle Program, which is operated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, covers 50% of the incremental cost of a converted or dedicated propane autogas vehicle, and both private and public entities, such as school districts, are encouraged to apply.

This legislation has had a huge impact on schools looking to reduce short-term costs on new equipment. Putnam County School District was the first in the state to apply for funding assistance through the program for its three propane autogas buses. Additionally, Broward County, one of the largest school districts in the nation, reported utilizing the alternative-fuel program to partially cover costs on its adoption of 98 propane autogas school buses in April, and is also exempt from fuel taxes through the program.

“We’ll be using these buses for our high-mileage routes due to the substantial cost and maintenance savings with clean and safe propane autogas,” says Pat Snell, director of student transportation and fleet services for Broward County Public Schools. “Some of the savings will be funneled directly back into the classroom.”

In total, recent adoptions by Broward County, the School District of Indian River County, Putnam County School District, Alachua County Public Schools and Pasco School District have catapulted Florida to one of the top 10 states in the country leading propane autogas school bus deployments, according to research from the Propane Education & Research Council.  

“Contractors and school districts across North America have been reporting terrific fuel and maintenance savings with our propane buses,” says Trey Jenkins, Blue Bird’s vice president of alternative fuels. “Given propane’s proven track record with school districts in Florida, we foresee continued propane growth in this emerging market.”

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