Show-Me State’s School Districts Learn Benefits of Propane-Powered Buses


Missouri school districts have found a clean, affordable and less complicated path to reducing harmful emissions with school buses powered by propane autogas.

“Propane separated itself from the other fuels because of the following: a long-standing history of use by the National Park Service since the 1970s; improvements in fueling technology; long-term sustainability; a low cost of facility conversion; affordability of the fuel; and a fit for our community,” says Scott Speer, transportation director for Hannibal (Mo.) Public School District #60.

An ultra-low-emission, domestically produced fuel, propane autogas costs half as much as diesel. Propane not only has decades of research and infrastructure behind it, but it also eliminates the need for battery disposal and avoids putting pressure on the electric grid.

Propane school buses are eligible for many public and private grants and incentives. Grain Valley (Mo.) School District, which operates 50% of its fleet using propane, receives about $23,000 per year in alternative fuel tax rebates in addition to grant funding.

“On average, we receive at least $25,000 per bus in grant funding,” says Shawn Brady, director of transportation for Grain Valley School District. “Going with propane is the best decision our district has made.”

The district plans to move to an all-propane fleet, with new propane buses rolling in regularly.

Propane itself is not a direct greenhouse gas when released into the air. Rather, it’s a nontoxic, non-carcinogenic and non-corrosive fuel that poses no harm to groundwater, surface water or soil. Research shows that 24 propane buses emit less nitrogen oxides than one diesel school bus manufactured between 2007 and 2010.

Liberty (Mo.) Public Schools chose propane school buses as a replacement for diesel because its staff is committed to creating a clean environment for its students.

“Our leadership takes a responsible look toward emission control and is invested in lowering the carbon footprint created by district vehicles,” says Jeff Baird, director of transportation for Liberty Public Schools.

Two years after adopting propane school buses, Liberty Public Schools cites reliability, environmental responsibility and cost savings as reasons it continues to add new propane buses to its fleet. The district currently pays $3.27 per gallon for diesel and $1.18 for propane.

Neosho (Mo.) School District, which has operated propane school buses for 10 years, appreciates that the ultra-clean fuel helps reduce maintenance costs.

“The estimated repair cost is three to four times cheaper on a propane system than on a diesel system,” says Marty Marks, director of transportation for Neosho School District. “Between savings on DEF (diesel exhaust fluid), oil, fuel filters, air filters and regen filters, we’re seeing about $15,000 saved annually outside of fuel savings.”

More than 22,000 propane school buses are operating across the U.S., including over 300 in Missouri.

The Missouri Propane Education & Research Council is 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.

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