FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A recent analysis found that the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) transportation department reduced its annual operating costs by more than $600,000 by using propane autogas-powered school buses, according to ROUSH CleanTech.

BCPS began using 98 Blue Bird Propane Vision buses in the 2014-15 school year. ROUSH CleanTech is the manufacturer of the engine fuel system for the buses.

“Providing safe and efficient transportation for our students is always our priority,” BCPS Superintendent Robert W. Runcie said. “The fuel and maintenance savings from our buses using propane autogas has allowed us to reduce our expenses for transporting students to and from school.”

The district paid an average of $1.32 per gallon for propane and $2.75 for diesel over the last year. In addition to fuel savings, annual maintenance costs for the alternative-fuel buses amounted to 80% less than for the district's diesel buses.

BCPS operates 1,269 school buses, including the 98 fueled by propane autogas. Each bus travels an average of 16,500 miles per year, transporting approximately 75,000 students.
BCPS expects to save more than $74,000 in operating costs over the 12-year lifecycle of each propane autogas bus, which equates to a 38 cents per mile savings.

“After researching the direction of school bus transportation, we decided propane was the best fit and the best use of taxpayer dollars,” said Patricia Snell, director of student transportation and fleet services for BCPS. “We’ve been thrilled with the savings, as well as the performance of the buses.”

BCPS budgeted for a six-month return on investment of the initial propane engine upcharge, but succeeded in recouping that cost in three months. The buses had an incremental cost of less than 3% more than their diesel counterparts, ROUSH CleanTech officials said.

“The budget-conscious decisions made by Broward County Public Schools means their students ride cleaner, cost-effective buses that emit less harmful pollutants,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “Propane autogas is a smart, versatile and American-made fuel choice that is beneficial for all school districts.”

In addition to bottom-line savings, the district’s propane bus fleet emits 153,000 fewer pounds of nitrogen oxide and 3,100 fewer pounds of particulate matter each year compared to the diesel buses they replaced, according to ROUSH CleanTech.

The district has ordered 37 more propane buses for the 2015-16 school year.

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