Propane autogas school bus going strong at 250,000 miles

May 30, 2023 By    

In its role as the sole transportation contractor for two school districts in rural Minnesota, Crosby-Ironton Transportation relies on propane autogas school buses. But one bus in particular is drawing extra attention, especially as it operates during the harsh winters of Crosby, Minnesota.

Propane school bus photo courtesy of Roush CleanTech

The 2011 Micro Bird propane bus, which carries students in rural Minnesota, has reached 250,000 miles. (Photo: Roush CleanTech)

In 2013, Crosby-Ironton Transportation purchased a 2011 propane bus to add to the company’s growing fleet. The bus – the third Micro Bird propane bus ever built – was able to reliably transport students in extreme weather conditions, reduce fuel and maintenance costs, and serve as a gentle energy source on the state’s natural resources. Ten years later, that same bus is operating daily with more than 250,000 miles.

According to a case study from clean fuel system technology provider Roush CleanTech, the quarter-million-mile propane bus still has the original transmission and has only required one fuel pump, one radiator, a headlight replacement, spark plugs and tank recoating. The propane school buses – 12 of the fleet’s 23 vehicles run on autogas – are used for long distances, including field trips across the state and north to Canada.

Crosby-Ironton Transportation says it prefers propane autogas buses because of the fuel and maintenance savings for which they allow, serviceability, engine reliability and clean operation.

The company is seeing 67 percent savings on fuel costs; at the time of the case study early this year, it was paying $1.67 a gallon for propane compared to $5 a gallon for diesel. Autogas also provides it with no cold-start issues in Minnesota’s extremely cold temperatures, the contractor adds.

“Our community and students have benefited greatly from our propane buses because they have no cold-start issues, so we can be confident that kids can continue attending school even when the weather turns to negative 40 degrees,” Josh Schiffler, owner and chief technician at Crosby-Ironton Transportation, says in the case study.

Propane autogas school buses are reliable and ideal for rural areas and long distances because they can achieve a range of up to 400 miles on a single fueling, Roush CleanTech shares in the case study. The buses also retain equivalent horsepower, torque, towing capacity and warranty coverage as their gas and diesel counterparts.

Roush CleanTech says propane autogas also offers the lowest total cost of ownership when compared to other options, including electric vehicles. Federal alternative fuel tax credits of 37 cents a gallon contribute to the benefits of operating autogas vehicles.

Propane autogas-fueled school buses transport 1.3 million students daily in the U.S.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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