Three clean-operating propane school buses arrived at Fort Smith (Arkansas) Public Schools this month, marking the district’s first alternatively fueled bus purchase. Amid rising gas and diesel prices, the district expects to save 60% in fuel costs and thousands of dollars more in maintenance costs.
“Our district is excited about our new propane buses’ cost-saving benefits to help meet budgets and emissions-reducing benefits that are better for student health and the environment,” said Dennis Siebenmorgen, transportation director of Fort Smith Public Schools. “We’re proud to be leading Arkansas to a cleaner future to improve the quality of air for kids, families, drivers and our community.”
Fort Smith Public Schools currently runs 83 buses with 55 routes each day. The new Blue Bird Vision Type C buses equipped with ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel technology will be used daily to transport special needs students.
“Fort Smith Public Schools joins more than a 1,000 school districts across the country transitioning to clean-operating, low-cost propane buses,” said Steve Ahrens, Arkansas Propane Gas Association’s executive director. “In addition to reducing emissions, districts are reporting that their total cost of ownership for propane buses is lower than with any other fuel.”
Many districts are tapping into state and federal funding. To help purchase the buses, Fort Smith Public Schools received funding from the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment. Additional funding for propane buses is available this year for Arkansas schools who qualify for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Rebate Program.
The school district added an on-site propane fueling station and locked in a long-term fuel price to help with yearlong budgeting.
“Installing a propane fueling station costs less than any other transportation fueling infrastructure,” said Gary Tedford, regional sales manager with Central States Bus. “Plus, propane buses fuel as quickly and easily as gasoline or diesel buses.”
Bus drivers and students who ride propane buses have significantly reduced exposure to harmful nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, soot and particulate matter. Fort Smith Public School’s three propane buses will emit about 2,600 fewer pounds of nitrogen oxides and 6,700 fewer pounds of carbon oxides each year compared to the aging diesel buses they replace.