<p>With a small fleet of 10 school buses total, North Crawford School District has acquired three propane models over the past two years and plans to buy more.</p>

SOLDIERS GROVE, Wis. — North Crawford School District is seeing savings in maintenance and fuel costs with its new propane school buses.

The district, located on the western side of Wisconsin near the state’s borders with Minnesota and Iowa, runs six school bus routes and has a total fleet of 10 buses. Over the past two years, North Crawford has acquired three Blue Bird propane autogas buses. The district has found that in addition to cutting emissions, the propane buses have reduced operating costs.

“We were spending a lot of money and time on diesel-related repairs, and our research showed propane buses would likely have less maintenance costs,” said Demetri Andrews, business manager for North Crawford School District. “They don’t need the extra emissions products installed like our diesel buses.”

North Crawford contracted with a local propane supplier to lock in a price of $1.32 per gallon, compared with $3.10 per gallon for diesel.

“Diesel prices are more volatile and difficult to budget for us,” Andrews noted.

The Blue Bird Vision Propane school bus is equipped with a Ford 6.8L V10 engine and powered by a Roush CleanTech propane fuel system.

The North Crawford buses, which run regular daily routes, have reportedly reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by almost 3,000 pounds and particulate matter by about 65 pounds each year compared with the diesel buses they replaced.

North Crawford chose to install an onsite propane station to fuel the buses. The propane company supplied the tank, and the school district paid for the cement slab and electrical hook-up.

“The district spent a total of $8,000 in fueling infrastructure costs,” Andrews said, adding that those costs have already been recouped through fuel and maintenance savings.

North Crawford plans to purchase more propane-fueled school buses in the near future.

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