Like many school districts across the country, Liberty Public Schools in Missouri is taking a responsible look toward emission control and lowering the carbon footprint created by district vehicles.
That’s why when more than a dozen of the district’s diesel buses were approaching the end of their lifecycle, Jeff Baird, director of transportation, took the opportunity to replace the maintenance-heavy buses with 10 buses powered by propane autogas. Propane school buses are clean-burning and fulfill Liberty Public Schools’ commitment to maintaining integrity and asset longevity as a means to keep money in the classroom.
“We operate a fleet with the philosophy that we have good maintenance and solid preventative maintenance,” Baird said.
With the addition of the 10 propane buses, Liberty Public Schools’ maintenance shop earned the fleet excellence award, which is given by the state highway patrol to school districts that are excellent at maintaining their fleet.
During his research, Baird learned that propane engine technology is so advanced that harmful emissions are near zero, which is why it’s the most widely used alternative fuel for school buses. Today, more than 1.2 million students travel to school in propane school buses.
While clean diesel can be cleaner than pre-2007 school bus models by employing many complex and costly after-treatments, propane is cleaner by its very molecular, low-carbon composition. In fact, 24 propane buses emit fewer nitrogen oxides than one diesel school bus manufactured between 2007 and 2010.
The district currently pays $3.90 per gallon for diesel and $.79 per gallon for propane.
“In the current economy, the savings over diesel has been considerable,” Baird said. “At $.79 per gallon for propane, we’re saving between $2.80 and $3.11 on fuel with our propane buses.”
The fuel savings when comparing diesel to propane autogas in the first year was $56,562.
To help offset the cost of the purchased buses, the Missouri Propane Education & Research Council (MOPERC) awarded $20,000 to the school district as part of the Clean Bus Replacement Plan.
After just one year, Liberty Public Schools has had such success with their propane buses, there are now seven more on order for the district.
Liberty Public Schools is a 17-campus school district outside Kansas City, Missouri. The district runs 143 bus routes for 4,200 students daily, requiring the use of 88 school buses.
Steve Ahrens is the executive director of the Missouri Propane Education & Research Council, a not-for-profit organization authorized by the Missouri Legislature. Dedicated to propane education and public awareness, MOPERC provides industry training, consumer safety, appliance rebates and market development programs. Visit PropaneMissouri.com for more information about school buses fueled by propane autogas.