Students returning to Kansas City Public Schools in Missouri are riding in brand new propane autogas buses, reducing both emissions and noise.
The majority of the district’s school bus fleet now operates on propane autogas. The 155 new Blue Bird school buses will reduce NOx emissions by over 55,000 pounds and particulate matter by almost 500 pounds each year compared with the diesel buses they replaced, according to estimates from Blue Bird and ROUSH CleanTech, which makes the propane fuel system.
“Kansas City is a progressive, tech-focused city, and we are always looking to provide outstanding service for our students,” says Chris Walls, director of transportation for KCPS. “In addition to reducing emissions, the propane school buses are much quieter. That means the driver can hear and communicate better with the students on board. Plus, the local neighborhood will no longer have to deal with our former noisy diesel bus warm-ups at 4 a.m.”
The district contracted with Student Transportation of America (STA) to acquire the Type C propane buses.
“Domestically produced, clean-burning propane autogas is a perfect fit for Kansas City’s school bus fleet,” notes Doug Gallagher, senior vice president of fleet and maintenance for STA, which has invested millions of dollars in more than 2,000 propane autogas buses across the U.S. “We convey to school districts that there are economic, safety and environmental benefits to propane-powered school buses.”
The school district also pays 50% less per gallon for propane compared with diesel, for an expected savings of about $500,000 annually. It also anticipates another $55,000 savings each year in maintenance costs. Walls says that every dollar saved in transportation ends up back in the classroom.
“We congratulate both STA and Kansas City schools for being leaders in the adoption of alternative fuels in Missouri,” says Mark Terry, chief commercial officer of Blue Bird. “Our Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses are a smart solution for any school system looking to be environmentally and fiscally responsible.”
KCPS joins over 900 school districts running propane autogas school buses, according to Blue Bird and ROUSH.
“The fuel system technology on these buses offers reliable performance in cold weather all the way down to negative 40 degrees. Operating propane buses provides peace of mind to the district because the fuel can handle extreme conditions without impacting the driver,” says Ryan Zic, vice president of school bus sales at ROUSH CleanTech.
The district also recently installed a propane station on school grounds that can fuel four buses at a time.
“It was a simple decision for us to choose propane because everyone wins,” adds Walls.