OPINION: Propane fueling back to school season


Back to school season has many parents and school transportation directors figuring out the particulars of school bus stop locations and bus schedules.

It is part of the process every year, along with checking school supply lists, back to school shopping, memorizing locker combinations, figuring out class schedules and everything in between.

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One thing parents rarely think about is the type of bus transporting their children to and from school every day. Reducing student’s exposure to harmful tailpipe emissions is critical not only to their health and well-being but to that of the drivers and the residents of the communities the buses travel through each school day.

One popular alternative to traditional diesel for school bus fleets has been in use as a vehicle fuel since the 1930s – propane autogas. This sustainable, domestic transportation fuel provides a host of benefits for school districts and communities alike while supporting energy resilience and American jobs.

A study commissioned by the Propane Education and Research Council and West Virginia University in 2019 found propane autogas reduced harmful NOx emissions by 95% in city route tests when compared to diesel buses. The propane buses reduced NOx by 96% and carbon dioxide by 13% in stop and go route testing when compared to diesel buses.

Another safety perk with propane school buses is their quieter operation level when compared to diesel-fueled buses. The reduced noise level makes it easier for the driver to hear students and respond in case of an emergency. Quieter buses traveling through our neighborhoods also reduce noise pollution and improve quality of life for residents.

Propane is also a good financial choice, which benefits tax payers. The average cost of propane is consistently less than the average cost of diesel.

Propane stands up nicely to harsh Wisconsin winters as well and does not gel in frigid temperatures like diesel. The advantage reduces the time needed for drivers to warm and idle diesel engines, which wastes fuel and money while creating harmful emissions.

School districts carry our communities’ most precious cargo and we salute the transportation directors and bus drivers working to do so safely each school day. Supporting the adoption of clean, affordable, domestic fuels and technologies for our school districts helps ensure our students, school bus drivers and residents have cleaner air to breathe now and for years to come.

This column first appeared in The LaCrosse Tribune and other Lee Enterprises newspapers across Wisconsin. Lorrie Lisek is executive director of Wisconsin Clean Cities and president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.


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