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Zionsville Community Schools increases use of propane buses

October 17, 2023 By    

To keep up with growth, Zionsville Community Schools has increased bus routes using propane autogas. The suburban public school district, which is located outside Indianapolis, is now operating 33 new propane school buses.

Propane bus photo courtesy of Roush CleanTech

Zionsville Community Schools now operates 54 propane school buses, which is 65 percent of its fleet and 73 percent of its total daily routes. (Photo: Roush CleanTech)

“We love operating propane buses,” says Amy Eaton, transportation manager at Zionsville Community Schools. “They produce less pollution, which is great for our students. They’re much quieter, which benefits the drivers. And, they provide fuel savings, which is great for the school.”

About 150 school districts across the country began the 2023-24 school year with new Blue Bird propane buses powered by Roush CleanTech’s propane technology, according to Roush. In addition, there are more than 20,000 propane school buses in operation in over 1,000 districts across the nation, with about 600 in Indiana.

“Propane provides a simple solution to complex problems,” says Todd Mouw, executive vice president at Roush CleanTech. “Propane is the common-sense approach – it works, and it will do the job you need it to while meeting regulations through 2027.”

Zionsville Community Schools, which serves 8,000 students across nine campuses, began adopting propane autogas in 2020 with an initial purchase of 21 propane buses from MacAllister Transportation. The initiative to adopt a cleaner fuel has been so successful that the transportation department now operates 54 propane school buses, which is 65 percent of its fleet and 73 percent of its total daily routes.

Over the last three years, feedback about propane buses from district staff has been positive. The performance of a propane bus, in relation to speed and acceleration, is similar to a diesel bus, and there are no issues starting up in cold weather, Eaton explains.

“Once the drivers get behind the wheel, they love them,” she adds. “My mechanics love them, too.”

The school district partnered with Co-Alliance to install on-site propane fueling stations and, as of Oct. 10, was paying $1.59 per gallon of propane compared to $3.12 per gallon of diesel. The savings and ability to negotiate low pricing have helped the district manage its budget during a time of rapid expansion and student growth.

About the Author:

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

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