School bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation and ROUSH CleanTech, which produces propane autogas fuel systems and tanks, have released a case study on the usage of propane autogas buses in Washingtonville Central School District (WCSD), located in Orange County, New York.
The purpose of the study was to investigate alternatives in fuel technology and their effects on the district’s transportation department.
The key findings of the study indicate that the district has saved money through the usage of the propane autogas buses.
When the district decided to purchase these buses, it found that the cost was approximately nine percent higher than for the diesel-powered version of the same bus. WCSD decided to go ahead and buy the propane version, but made it a goal to recover that extra money within a year.
The study reports that this money was in fact recouped due to savings in fuel and maintenance costs. Fuel savings amounted a total of $21,000 for the autogas fleet, with cost per gallon down by 40-45 percent. There was also a significant decrease in maintenance expenses, with an overall decrease of about 30 percent.
The district has ordered nine new propane buses for the 2014-2015 school year, which will bring the propane proportion of their fleet to 30 percent. Washingtonville school board member Bill Santos told the Times Herald Record a few years ago that the district hopes for an eventual, full-fleet transition to propane.
According to Paul Nienstadt, executive director of the Buildings and Grounds department at WCSD, neighboring school districts have expressed to WCSD that they are also hoping to add propane buses to their fleets.
WCSD was the first district in Orange County to purchase propane buses. These buses travel a total of 450 miles per week, or approximately 18,000 each year. A total of 18 Blue Bird Propane Vision Type C buses were used in the study.