STANFORD, Ill. — A school district here now has more than a third of its school buses running on propane, which officials said is lowering operating costs and yielding other benefits.

Olympia Community Unit School District 16 is the third-largest rural school district in Illinois, covering 377 square miles, and its school buses travel an average of 20,000 miles per year.

The district, which has a fleet of 33 buses, initially acquired two propane models and now has a total of 12. The propane buses are Blue Birds with ROUSH CleanTech fuel systems. The rest of the fleet runs on diesel.

Josh Olsen, assistant superintendent for Olympia, estimates that each propane bus saves the district $2,500 per year in fuel and maintenance. He figures that the 12 propane models will save the district $300,000 over their 10-year lives.

Propane engines do not require diesel exhaust fluid and diesel particulate filters, and oil consumption can reportedly be reduced by as much as 50%.

In addition to the cost savings, Olympia district officials said that the propane buses’ quieter, cleaner-burning operation is a key benefit.

“I love the fact that when our buses pull up to the schools at the beginning or end of the day, we’re not sitting there creating a cloud of fumes right outside the school,” Olsen said.

Evergreen FS, based in Bloomington, Illinois, works with Olsen to supply the fuel. The company also set up and continues to service the district’s four 1,000-gallon propane tanks. The on-site storage typically provides a seven- to eight-day supply of propane.

Olsen discusses the district’s propane fleet and infrastructure in the video below.

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