New Propane-Fueled School Buses Unveiled

New Propane-Fueled School Buses Unveiled at NPSD
Posted on 10/22/2019

The North Penn School District (NPSD) unveiled 14 new cost- and emission-reducing propane-fueled school buses and a propane fueling station at a ribbon-cutting event at North Penn High School in October of 2019.

The ribbon cutting ceremony included a live fueling demonstration and remarks from NPSD administrators and school board members and representatives from Amerigas and Brightbill. The event concluded in attendees taking a ride on one of the new propane buses.

NPSD’s efforts to convert its fleet from diesel to propane fueled buses began earlier this year as a result of receiving grants totaling more than $600,000 to purchase propane-fueled school buses and install a propane fueling station. The Blue Bird Vision Propane and Micro Bird buses, funded in part by the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust to support projects that reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, began operation over the summer. The district plans to continue the partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to work to transition as many buses as possible to propane-fueled vehicles.

“Propane school buses make the most sense for us. Other types of alternative-fuel school buses are cost prohibitive and do not make sense for a school district our size,” said Angelo Tornetta, technician supervisor for NPSD. “Propane autogas operates clean and is much cheaper than diesel or compressed natural gas, plus it costs less to maintain a propane school bus. So, it was an easy decision.”

NPSD currently pays $.97 per gallon for propane compared with $2.04 for diesel. The district has a newly installed, onsite fuel station with 18,000-gallon tank capacity.

Propane-powered buses emit far fewer NOx than diesel buses, and university studies have shown that this improvement increases in the start and stop duty cycle of a school bus. Exposure to NOx exhaust can have negative health effects on children, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Propane buses do not require dozens of extra parts in order to reduce emissions, which lowers maintenance costs.

“The Ford engine with a ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system exceeds today’s emissions standard at nearly 10 times lower NOx output, achieving California Air Resources Board’s optional, ultra-low certification,” said Ryan Zic, vice president of school bus sales for ROUSH CleanTech. “Both the school district and surrounding community will benefit from cleaner air and also less maintenance costs since the engine is so clean.”

The district’s drivers are impressed with the power of the new propane buses and the low amount of noise that the engines create. Buses fueled by propane reduce noise levels by about half compared to a diesel engine. Drivers note that the propane buses make for a much quieter and calmer bus ride for the students.

“With a propane bus, I am able to monitor activity inside the bus much better than I'd ever been able to before,” said NPSD Bus Driver William Gottshall. “If something is going on inside the propane bus, I know about it immediately,”

NPSD Bus Driver Kerri Neumeye agreed, also commenting on the bus’s performance. “The propane bus has excellent acceleration. When pulling into four lanes of high-speed traffic, you want the extra power this bus has.”

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