Liberty Public Schools has added 10 new Blue Bird Vision propane school buses to its fleet after receiving funding from the Missouri Propane Education and Research Council (MOPERC).
The district purchased the buses using a $20,000 rebate from MOPERC's Clean Bus Replacement Plan, which has committed $1 million to help the state’s school districts transition from diesel to propane buses, according to a news release from the council. The plan offers rebates of $2,000 per propane bus, up to 10 per school district, at the time of delivery.
Liberty Public Schools propane buses are currently in service for the district’s daily and activity routes, which have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to MOPERC.
“By choosing propane buses, we are seeing dramatic cost savings. Money saved in transportation becomes available for other education expenses related to the classroom,” said Jeff Baird, transportation director for Liberty Public Schools. “Taking care of our students’ needs is top priority because they’ve sacrificed so much during the pandemic, and our propane buses help us do that.”
Liberty Public Schools currently pays $1.86 per gallon of diesel fuel, while propane is $0.79 per gallon, according to MOPERC. Baird told the council that the district expects to cut its fuel costs by 35% with propane buses.
“There are now more than 300 propane school buses operating in Missouri,” said Steve Ahrens, president and CEO of MOPERC. “Liberty Public Schools joins other districts across the state not only experiencing the economic benefits, but also improving the health of its students, drivers, and community. These buses are clean-operating and eliminate strong-smelling fumes and harmful tailpipe emissions found with diesel buses.”
Liberty Public Schools, which received its new buses in early January, is in the process of installing an on-site fuel station with an 18,000-gallon tank, according to MOPERC. Representatives from Liberty Public Schools, Central States Bus Sales, MOPERC, and CHS Inc. attended the rebate presentation on Feb. 19 at the district’s Support Services building.
In addition to its Clean Bus Replacement Plan, MOPERC offers a zero-interest financing plan where school districts can get 0% interest loans through lease purchase financing up to $300,000, according to the council.