Are propane school buses the way of the future?

Local News

MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — Some schools in South Dakota have shifted gears on the type of bus they are operating — now including propane powered buses.

As more people work to reduce vehicle emissions, some school districts are purchasing propane buses. The Madison Central School District has added four to its 17-bus fleet the last two years.

“We were able to replace some of our older buses that weren’t running with the same emissions and we were able to get these buses that have a lot better emission, less emission releases. That was kind of the main goal to it,” Madison Central School District business manager Mitch Brooks said.

Brooks says propane buses cost slightly more than diesel, but they’ve gotten help purchasing them through grants and funding from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Transportation director Stan Fods said these buses are easier to maintain.

“You don’t have all the fuel filter costs. You don’t have the oil, as much oil, or the oil filters are a lot less on these buses versus a diesel bus,” he said.

And you can tell what powers these school buses by looking at the bird logo above the door. Green is propane, blue is gas and black is diesel.

In cold weather, Fods said the propane buses have been reliable.

“It was negative 30 degrees and I had a diesel bus that didn’t start, and so I handed the driver the key for the one propane bus that was sitting outside and he went out, put the key in, turned the switch, started it up and the way he went on his route,” he said.

Fods says bus drivers are also giving the new sets of wheels positive reviews.

“They could tell it’s a little less power, but as far as, they warm up so fast, pretty much all the bus drivers like them, so they would rather drive those than the diesels on the routes,” he said.

Other schools that purchased new propane buses include Brookings, Gayville-Volin, Harrisburg, Lennox, and Yankton.

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