California schools adopting propane-powered buses
The article below investigates the California school districts who have recently switched from diesel- powered buses to propane-powered buses. These districts include Anaheim, Baldwin Park, Keppel Union, Los Angeles, Fullerton, Inglewood, Riverside and Redlands.
In the last decade, numerous California school districts have adopted propane-based school buses in an attempt to eliminate costs and toxic emissions.
Since 2013, the Elk Grove Unified School District near Sacramento has added 16 propane buses to its fleet and expects up to 12 more in the next month.
Propane auto gas, as it’s called, is “a proven way to dramatically decrease oxides of nitrogen emissions in communities,” noted a recent study by West University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions. The report shed light on the positive effects of propane-powered school buses replacing old, diesel-powered buses.
Gary Dodson, manager of fleet maintenance for Elk Grove School District, says the auto gas buses are very reliable and save costs. “They don’t require the exhaust after treatment that diesel requires and it will be saving us from expensive maintenance within 10 to 15 years of a diesel engine’s life,” he said.
“Schools save an average of $3,000 to $5,000 per bus,” says Tucker Perkins, president and CEO of the Propane Education and Research Council. Perkins estimates that if all diesel school buses across the United States were swapped with propane-fueled buses, the savings would be enough to cover the cost to hire 23,000 teachers.
The iREV Propane Case Study shows the process and amount of time it takes to fuel a propane auto gas vehicle is similar to filling a gasoline vehicle, but if local codes allow, auto gas vehicles can be refueled by mobile on-site fueling in the event other options are not available when there is a power outage.
“Police fleets enjoy the structurally sound tanks as well, it gives them comfort in horrific crashes,” Perkins added. Earlier this year, three propane auto gas squad cars were added to Greenville, Tennessee’s fleet, with savings estimated at $10,000 per year.
Elk Grove Unified School District currently has up to four Lion Electric Co. buses on routes but fear the 65-mile range they are currently getting is limiting, despite the exceptional product and customer service Lion provides. “The range works great for the morning routes, but the downfall is there’s not a lot of grant money for propane,” said Michael “Matt” Sanchez, Elk Grove Unified School District Director of
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