Original Article by: School Transportation News
Propane autogas isn’t new to the school transportation world. In fact, it’s been a proven performer in buses since the 1970s. Over the past seven years, propane autogas school bus registrations have increased by more than 700 percent, with more than 17,000 propane buses on the road nationwide and over one million students in 47 states safely transported to school and home every day. School transportation departments and private contractors are choosing propane autogas over all other fuels for these top five reasons:
1. Propane autogas is (actually) cleaner. In real-world testing conducted by West Virginia University in 2018, propane autogas produced 96 percent fewer NOx emissions compared with clean diesel buses. Plus, propane autogas is more cost-effective than clean diesel and electric in terms of pounds of NOx reduced. Schools also trust propane autogas buses to reduce particulate matter around students, which can irritate asthma and other breathing-related issues.
Propane autogas is also cleaner for the total environment. Diesel (including “clean diesel”) is a toxic contaminant of soil and water resources. Without rigorous maintenance, harmful tailpipe emissions are likely to increase as the vehicle ages and the system degrades. Both diesel and gasoline can contaminate soil and water resources through spills, leaching, and water runoff.
2. Propane autogas provides the lowest total-cost-of-ownership of any fuel option. If your district is looking to keep its costs low while switching to a cleaner fuel, propane autogas is just the right option. Clean diesel buses can only meet EPA and CARB certification levels with complex, expensive technology that costs you more over time—lifetime capital investments in wages, maintenance, repairs, and other costs over the life of the vehicle.
Propane autogas does not require additional fluids, filters, or rigorous maintenance. Additionally, it reduces the most emissions of all fuel options at the lowest cost. In fact, propane autogas is 93 percent more cost-effective, costing only $0.19 per mile compared with diesel at $0.80 per mile (accounting for fuel and maintenance).
3. Propane autogas performance can be trusted well into the future. Clean diesel engines require rigorous and costly maintenance to stay efficient. And failure to keep up with OEM-recommended operating procedures and maintenance intervals has its consequences: reduced performance, premature component failure, and downtime to clean or replace DPF and other costly components.
Technicians who work on propane autogas buses report that the maintenance is uncomplicated and the buses are reliable.
4. Propane autogas provides the performance your fleet requires. Because propane autogas buses are manufactured by the OEMs you already know, you can trust that the performance meets your standards. Propane autogas buses also operate noticeably quieter than diesel buses, which helps the bus driver better concentrate on driving safely—in addition to increasing job satisfaction. And in the winter, propane autogas buses start up on demand, unlike conventional buses that require startup crews for frigid mornings.
5. Propane autogas is innovating clean performance. Propane autogas has a new ultra-low NOx engine, manufactured by Roush CleanTech, with impressively clean performance technology that has moved propane autogas even closer to achieving zero emissions levels. The Ford 6.8L engine is certified to the optional ultra-low-NOx CARB 0.02 g/bhp-hr standard, operating 90 percent cleaner than the EPA’s mandated 0.20 g/bhp-hr heavy-duty standard.
In an industry where many school districts and private contractors are considering alternative fuels, propane autogas continues to be a top choice.