BEND, Ore. — Bend-La Pine Schools has been replacing aging diesel school buses with new propane models, which district officials said have performed reliably in cold weather and have reduced fuel costs.

A new case study reports that the school district now has 40% of its fleet running on propane autogas, displacing 145,000 gallons of diesel per year.

Bend-La Pine Schools’ propane fleet consists of 53 Blue Bird Propane Vision Type C school buses from model years 2010 to 2013. All of them are equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system.

The district has two separate propane fueling stations, each with a 2,000-gallon tank.

In 2009, Director of Transportation Denice Blake recognized a need to replace the district’s aging diesel buses, some of which were more than 30 years old.

“I had attended a local conference and test-drove a Blue Bird Propane Vision bus,” Blake said. “I was impressed with its power and quiet ride, especially since it ran on a clean-operating, affordable fuel.”

When temperatures drop, the district has had trouble with diesel fuel gelling.

“With overnight sub-zero temperatures, we couldn’t keep diesel buses running because of the ever-changing quality of the fuel,” said Dave Voiles, the district’s service manager. “This hasn’t been an issue with our propane autogas buses.”

Voiles reported that Bend-La Pine’s autogas bus fleet averages 95% reliability. By comparison, the district’s newest diesel buses run at 60% to 65% reliability.

Also, Voiles said that the district is saving “thousands of dollars a year using autogas compared to diesel fuel.”

To read the case study, click here.