LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has seen environmental benefits and safety advantages since running some of the buses in its fleet on propane. It anticipates that using the fuel will help to generate financial savings as well, according to a case study by the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC).

The study reports that LAUSD transports nearly 53,000 children to school every day and travels almost 15 million miles in an average school year. In an attempt to make operations cleaner and “greener” by reducing emissions, the district researched different options to meet the increasing air quality regulations in the state, and in December 2009, the district added 90 Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision school buses to its fleet.

The district purchased the buses, which feature a General Motors 8.1L engine with CleanFuel USA’s liquid propane injection system, from A-Z Bus in Riverside, Calif., through a clean school bus grant from the Southern California Air Quality Management District. CleanFuel USA established the refueling infrastructure and Delta Liquid Energy supplies the propane fuel.

Specifically in heavy-duty applications like school buses, propane reduces smog-forming emissions by up to 80 percent when compared with diesel engines, PERC officials said.

Passenger safety also played a critical role in the district’s decision to add these buses to its fleet. Propane offers the lowest flammability range of all alternative motor fuels, the study reports. The tanks are 20 times more puncture-resistant than typical gasoline and diesel tanks.

In regard to potential cost savings for the district, the case study reports that propane fuel typically costs about 30 percent less than diesel while still providing similar fuel economy. Moreover, installing the propane refueling structure costs about one-third less than a diesel structure because of the above-ground tank installation.

To read the case study in full, click here.

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