School District Considers Propane Bus Purchase

As buses age, the Kings Park Board of Ed considers the possibility of propane for replacement buses.

The Kings Park School District is considering the purchase of two propane-fueled buses to replace aging ones in its fleet.

A spokesperson from Blue Bird, a supplier propane buses school buses, laid out the benefits and features of propane fueled buses to the district’s board of education at the Tuesday evening meeting.

The district has expressed interest in buying a bus and a van this year. Other Long Island schools districts such as Riverhead and Roslyn have added propane buses to its fleet.

According to the company’s spokesperson, the initial cost of a propane bus would be about $10,000 more than a traditional diesel fueled bus, which the district uses now. Cost in fuel for propane is about $1.50 to $1.75 cheaper per gallon than diesel and are considered low emission vehicles. The lowered fuel cost reflects a .50 cent tax credit that the district would be eligible for.

“We are looking into grants. We do get state aid on buses,” said Susan Agruso, district superintendent, who added that the district has budgeted for two replacement buses.

Mechanics would receive free training from Blue Bird on maintaining the buses and no alterations would be needed for the district's existing shop. The buses come with a 5-year/100,000 mile warranty. Buses can be fueled on site by propane delivery trucks.


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MILLON April 09, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Liberty April 09, 2013 at 10:45 PM
The envoirmentalist will be very happy about this but please do a little more research before doing it. Yes propane is cheaper but the miles per gallon drops over 25% with propane. This will neg ate any savings. Also the initial cost for a school bus increases quite a bit over a diesel bus. A must check would with our Fire Dept. regarding safety measures needed where the buses are worked on. The fueling time also is longer and will this cost us another employee to have the fleet filled. Will the driver fill it at the garbage facility? If so what will that cost be, the driver s cost to run the bus back and forth and fill time. Even though people will tell you that you are saving money, it maybe costing the district. Last but not least is safety and security, will the buses be parked overnight without security if so are we ok with this. safety must be considered considering the proximity to the LIRR and residental homes. Be careful, do research
Charlie April 10, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Let's not start "get rid of entire bus department" again. It was discussed last year and the community was very vocal that they would prefer to keep our buses and more importantly, our bus drivers. The community was adamant that they wanted that "local feel" and insisted on keeping our bus drivers, most of them are community memebers that care about our kids. The BOE listened and did what the community wanted. Propoane buses are somewhat less efficeint in terms of miles per gallon but it is not 25% less efficient. The initial cost is $9,200 more for the propoane bus. There is no extra cost to fill the buses, no one needs to be hired. The propoane compant will come to the bus yard and fill the bus every 2-3 days. That cost is part of the $2.50 per gallon cost that was quoted. There is no running back and forth. As for security, I do not understand your point. The buses are parked in the same spot and we do have overnight secutity that checks on all of the schools and the bus garage, nothing changes. The BOE is being careful and we are doing research. The decision has not been finalized and we appreciate hearing from the community on all issues. We have a BOE meeting this Tuesday at 7:30 and the community should always attend, as much as their schedule permits.
new guy April 10, 2013 at 04:26 PM
i would ask the BOE to call the highway and parks dept and get their opinion on natural gas vehicles. i believe they have nothing but trouble with them. also a relative rides the senior citizen buses....turns out the bus cant make a full day without re-fueling. would you use the town filling stastion at the MSF?
Liberty April 10, 2013 at 04:32 PM
If you get a chance look at the N.Y. State Comptroller's report on clean fuel buses. The differencce in miles per gallon was 6.8 for diesel buses to 3.7 for propane..The positvie is the reduction of fuel cost by the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit aka VEETC. This reduction will give a savings of about $990 a bus but if congress does away with it the cost goes up about $660 a bus annually.
Dan Warne April 10, 2013 at 11:46 PM
Totally agree, call the Parks Dept. and ask Al Boylan, the maintenance chief of the towns fleet. The Senior Cit buses experienced cold weather starting problems and all CNG vehicles be it Parks or Senior Citz had fuel dissapation problems. Buses and parks packer truck were filled up at end of day only to find fuel guages showed half full next morning. The technology isnt there yet. Suggest BOE or their chief mechanic call before school buys these buses.
Liberty April 11, 2013 at 12:09 AM
Charlie-- I have no position as weather the board recommends or declines purchasing propane buses. The bigger problem becomes if we decide that we go with propane and start replacing diesels with propane in the coming years what infrastructure is needed for an entire propane fleet. I know that you said the propane company will fill these buses but could they do an entire fleet. If we had to provide a tank on our present facility would the fire dept. approve of it.
Charlie April 11, 2013 at 12:32 PM
Guys, all good comments and suggestions. You bring up valid points and I will try to make some phone calls and talk with people who have real life experience with this. The MPG issue is important and contradicts what the BOE was told. Please understand that we have about 60 buses in use and we are talking about purchaing 1 propane bus and that will be our pilot program. We need a new bus regardless of diesel or propane. If we continue with propane buses, we will need to have a large tank installed at the bus garage, and will fill the buses ourselves, just like we do with diesel. Keep the suggestions coming, keep them positive, and I will always try to get you an answer. Thanks, Charles Leo


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