In recent years, as public school districts have struggled to cope with tight budgetary restrictions, administrators have been forced to find new, creative ways to save money wherever possible. In many districts, particularly in the Midwest, schools have begun adopting propane-powered buses to cut the cost of fuel.
The Cedar Rapids School District in Iowa, for example, recently purchased seven new propane-powered buses to replace aging diesel models. These buses typically cost about $5,000 more than their diesel counterparts, but school districts can quickly recoup that loss in reduced fuel prices. Other notable districts that have adopted propane-powered school buses include Omaha, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Cost-cutting measure might be the primary reason that many school districts are adding propane-powered buses to their fleets, but it’s not the only one. Some school districts have begun making the transition to propane-power in anticipation of stricter emissions requirements on diesel vehicles from the EPA. Other districts in cold climates have found that propane-powered motors perform better in sub-freezing temperatures than diesel engines. Because propane burns far cleaner than diesel, it has also become popular in school districts with environmentally-friendly policy initiatives.
There is, however, one notable drawback to propane-powered school buses. It’s not always easy to find a propane refueling station on the road, so these buses aren’t ideal for long field trips or distant sporting events. Until propane refueling options become more widespread, school districts will likely have to keep a few diesel models on hand for long distance trips.
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