Suburban Propane, Indiana school district partner to promote autogas

May 30, 2016 By    
Suburban Propane partners with Southwestern Jefferson County School District to supply it with autogas.

Suburban Propane is partnering with Southwestern Jefferson County Schools to supply it with autogas. Photo courtesy of Suburban Propane.

Suburban Propane partnered with an Indiana school district to help educate the community about the benefits of propane autogas.

Southwestern Jefferson County School Corp., based in Hanover, Ind., added two propane-powered school buses to its fleet of 27 buses this past school year as a result of conversations with Blue Bird and Suburban Propane. According to the school district, the buses are its first that run on propane. They are equipped with a Roush CleanTech propane fuel system.

Spurred by the school district’s excitement about its new buses, Suburban Propane saw an opportunity to partner with it on a media event and share the perks of propane buses with the community.

Roger Fox, Suburban Propane’s regional sales representative in Indiana, says he hoped the media event would help break the stigma that buses run only on diesel or gasoline.

“People still don’t typically think of propane as a fuel for buses,” Fox says. “We just want to create awareness that there are school districts out there purchasing these buses.”

Southwestern Jefferson County School District Superintendent Trevor Jones, left, stands in front of one of the district's new autogas buses.

Southwestern Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Trevor Jones, left, says the savings made from maintenance on the autogas buses is substantial. Photo courtesy of Suburban Propane.

Members of the local media who attended the event had the opportunity to ride on the propane buses. In addition, the school district showcased its 1,000-gallon propane fueling station that it installed after purchasing the buses.

Trevor Jones, the school district’s superintendent, says the district purchased the buses about a year ago from MacAllister Transportation, a Blue Bird dealer in Indianapolis. Jones adds that Blue Bird promoted the autogas buses, and he says the school district was impressed with the quietness of the buses. The school district also connected with Suburban Propane to serve as its fuel supplier.

Jones says the propane buses start easier than diesel buses on cold winter days, and they are much easier to maintain, as well.

Fox says Suburban Propane has been delving deeper into the autogas market the past two years.

“We’re seeing growth in propane school buses,” he says. “It’s a growth market for everybody, really, with different government regulations on adopting clean fuel transportation.”

While the Southwestern Jefferson County school district doesn’t need to purchase new buses for this upcoming school year, it plans to explore more propane-fueled options in 2017.

“The savings we have made just on [bus] maintenance alone is pretty substantial,” Jones says. “The buses are cheaper to operate. We feel that moving forward we will look to try to purchase more full-size propane buses because of that upside.”

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