Two Transit Agencies Order South Dakota’s First Propane-Fueled Buses


Two South Dakota transit agencies — People’s Transit in Huron and Prairie Hills Transit in Spearfish — recently unveiled their first orders of buses fueled with propane autogas.

“Prairie Hills Transit is on the cutting edge of public transit operation with these new propane buses and the first propane fueling infrastructure in the state,” says Barbara Cline, executive director of Prairie Hills Transit. “We’ve done extensive research and believe that the use of propane is an excellent way to reduce emissions.”

“The new propane buses will have a positive impact on the environment because they reduce harmful emissions, especially when compared to our gasoline and diesel buses,” adds Gayle Kludt, executive director of People’s Transit.

Prairie Hills Transit will operate six propane buses, which is 10% of its fleet. People’s Transit will operate six propane buses, transitioning 80% of its in-town fleet to propane in 2024.

Buses for both agencies are equipped with advanced propane engine systems designed and built by ROUSH CleanTech. The ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-450 cutaway chassis is the only propane vehicle that has completed the Federal Transit Administration’s New Model Bus Testing Program (“Altoona Testing”), which allows transit fleet operators to access federal funds.

Both People’s Transit and Prairie Hills Transit have accessed available funding streams to help support the purchase of the new buses. “Funding for the buses will be primarily with Section 5339 federal funding,” says Kludt.

The propane buses also will reduce daily operating costs due to reduced fuel and maintenance expenses. On average, propane autogas costs about 40% less than gasoline and 50% less than diesel.

Propane — which is classified as a clean energy source by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — is an American-made, recycled, reclaimed, recovered and reprocessed fuel. More than 90% of the U.S. propane supply is produced domestically.

Besides environmental benefits, the new propane buses offer low maintenance costs; superior drivability on the hills around Spearfish; long-range, reliable cold weather performance with unaided starts up to minus 40 degrees F; and a quick cabin warm-up.

“While this is certainly a big transition, we’ve received incredible support from South Dakota Department of Transportation, ROUSH CleanTech and our bus dealer, Davey Coach,” says Cline. “We really are working with the best in the business on this new initiative.”

All the new propane buses are certified to 0.02 grams per brake horsepower-hour and emit 90% less nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than the EPA’s strictest standard. EPA and the California Air Resources Board measure NOx, particulate matter, non-methane hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, formaldehyde and nitrous oxide. Propane vehicles equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech fuel system are lower in all eight measured outputs by an average of 64%.

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