South Dakota School Districts Transition Buses to Propane Autogas


Six South Dakota school districts – Brookings, Gayville-Volin, Harrisburg, Lennox, Madison Central and Yankton – have received Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) funding to purchase propane autogas school buses. 

The districts say they chose Blue Bird Vision Propane buses because they emit fewer greenhouse gases, smog-producing hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides compared with the diesel buses replaced – and propane operating costs are significantly lower.

“Our school district began a three-year pilot program to test propane buses because of the opportunity for cost savings and funding assistance,” says Tony Anderson, transportation supervisor of Yankton School District. “We purchased two Blue Bird propane buses through the DENR program and have been awarded rebates for two additional propane buses. With their lower maintenance, cleaner emissions and quieter ride, we plan to keep buying propane buses.”

Harrisburg School District operates eight Blue Bird propane buses, of which five were purchased using funding. Since first adopting propane two years ago, the district has seen substantial cost savings. Currently, both school districts have onsite propane fueling stations and pay about half the cost for propane autogas compared with diesel per gallon. 

Propane school buses reduce harmful nitrogen oxides by 96%, according to a 2019 study by West Virginia University. Exposure to nitrogen oxide exhaust can have negative health effects on children and is a leading cause of asthma, according to the EPA. 

Because the ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel system is certified to meet the California Air Resources Board’s low-nitrogen oxide standards, Yankton and Harrisburg school districts received DENR funding to cover 35% of the purchase price for the new propane buses. The propane buses also qualify for federal alternative fuel excise tax credits which cover $0.36 per gallon of propane purchased.

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