6 South Dakota school districts adding propane buses to fleet

6 South Dakota school districts adding propane buses to fleet pkg
Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 7:11 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Thanks to the South Dakota Clean Diesel Grant and other funding opportunities, six school districts in South Dakota are adding propane-fueled buses to their fleet. That includes Brookings, Gayville-Volin, Harrisburg, Lennox, Madison Central, and Yankton.

6 South Dakota school districts adding propane buses to fleet

The Lennox School District purchased their first propane bus from the company Blue Bird three years ago after looking for ways to cut down maintenance costs.

“From anywhere from the fuel itself to after treatment on the exhaust. There’s a lot of moving parts on a diesel engine with the after-treatment on the exhaust to help make it cleaner. And basically with a propane bus, you don’t have to worry about that,” said Russ Nelson, Director of Transportation for the Lennox School District.

Because of the savings and environmental benefits, the district now has three propane buses. They are also looking at purchasing two more this summer.

“It’s a lot cleaner burning. It’s naturally sourced. There’s an overabundance of it from you know, all the gas drilling or oil drilling up in North Dakota,” said Nelson.

Harrisburg School District has followed suit adding eight propane buses to their fleet.

“I would say it cut our fuel cost in half,” said Lance Gerry, Lead Mechanic for the Harrisburg School District.

The district also invested in an onsite propane fueling station, similar to a gas pump, which helps cut costs even more.

“We can get direct transport loads. And then not only is it onsite, saves us time, then we probably save I think it’s around 46 cents a gallon just to have it on-site,” said Gerry.

Most importantly these districts hope the cleaner emissions have a positive effect on student’s health.

“We line up after school and in the winter the diesel buses have to run, so they stay warm. These (propane buses) aren’t pumping out any noxious fumes while kids are around. Diesels you can get the black cloud of smoke,” said Nelson.

As for the safety of propane buses, both districts say this is a proven technology.

“I know a lot of people are worried, they think they’re going to explode just because it’s propane, it’s new. It’s not really a new technology, it’s been out there a long time,” said Nelson.

In fact, the Omaha School District currently uses several hundred propane buses in its fleet

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