LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – As mounting gas costs and limited availability negatively impact drivers and school transportation, some districts have chosen alternative methods to ensure they get children to school on time and safely.
In an advertisement from the Propane Education & Research Council, Wa-Nee school district in Indiana has 55 buses in their fleet, 11 of those are propane powered buses according to Director of Transportation for Wa-Nee Community Schools Amy Rosa. The whole fleet is responsible for bringing 70% of the 3,000 students to school each day.
“Wa-Nee transitioned to propane buses in 2017 and we’ve been replacing our buses – four propane buses – each school year ever since,” she said, “We’re funding our propane buses through our current bus replacement plan with local funding; we’re also taking advantage of federal grants that are available so we can have a clean energy fleet.”
“It’s better for the student because [the buses] are quieter, they’re healthier, they’re cleaner,” Propane Education & Research Council President and CEO Tucker Perkins said.
When a school district makes the transition they will experience many benefits according to Perkins. He said that unlike diesel buses, propane buses don’t have a black cloud when they pull away. A school system will save on the order about $3,000 to $5,000 per bus. With the money they save transitioning their buses from diesel, schools could afford 23,000 new teachers Perkins said.
Wa-Nee Community School Bus Driver Brandy Reedy likes the buses better than diesel ones.
“They heat up much much faster – they warm up within like 10 – 15 minutes versus the diesel buses which take anywhere from a half hour to an hour to warm up,” she said.
In Spring of 2021, Livonia Public Schools added 22 new Blue Bird Propane buses to their fleet, the same type that Wa-Nee uses.
Michigan expanded its propane bus fleet drastically in 2015, offering 35 buses to the Detroit Public Schools. Recently, federal grants have allowed for the state to drastically expand its limited emissions fleets including propane buses.