HOLMEN, Wis. — A school district here added six propane school buses to its fleet for the 2017-18 school year, replacing some diesel buses, and has seen about $12,000 in savings so far.
Since the School District of Holmen put the Blue Bird Vision propane buses into operation, it has saved over $2,000 per bus in maintenance and fueling costs, said Beth Hobbs, the transportation supervisor for the district.
“This savings comes from lower fuel costs, using less filters and oil, not having to expend electricity for engine heaters in cold months, and less mechanic hours to maintain the propane buses,” she added.
The school district pays under $1 per gallon of propane, which is 65% less than it pays for diesel.
The buses are equipped with a Ford 6.8L V10 engine and are powered by a Roush CleanTech propane fuel system. The engine is certified to California Air Resources Board’s low nitrogen oxide (NOx) level of 0.05 grams per brake horsepower-hour, making it 75% cleaner than the Environmental Protection Agency’s current emissions standard, according to Roush CleanTech.
The school district’s propane buses, which run up to 11,500 miles per year, are expected to reduce NOx emissions by 8,700 pounds and particulate matter by about 190 pounds each year compared with the diesel buses they replaced. It is also anticipated that the buses will emit 80% fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons and eliminate particulate matter.
“With diesel buses, on cold mornings, district personnel are required to start buses early and let them idle excessively to ensure they are in driving condition for the first pickup,” said Ryan Zic, director of school bus sales for Roush CleanTech. “These propane buses eliminate the additional costs and time for this, since the propane fuel system heats the bus quickly and provides unaided cold weather starts to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Another advantage the school district has experienced with the buses is quieter operation.
The School District of Holmen has installed an onsite propane station with a 2,000-gallon capacity tank, and plans to purchase propane buses each year to replace its aging diesel buses.