Pennsylvania school district seeks $1 million to expand Autogas bus fleet

As North Penn school district’s Transportation Coordinator Nick Kraynak outlined his department’s facts and figures for the school board recently, including the big difference that adding new LPG-powered school buses has made to the fleet. “Our average age is now 11.41 (years old), which is down from 12.6 last year. When I started here it was, I want to say, 14.5, so we are slowly chipping away at that average age of our fleet,” said Kraynak.

Last summer North Penn began taking delivery of their first round of Autogas school buses, which were partially funded with state grant money. Now, the department’s fleet consists of 14 LPG-powered buses, manufactured by Blue Bird Bus, and a purchase order has been issued for seven more that could be delivered by the end of the current school year.

Moreover, the transportation department is requesting an additional $1 million in their 2020-21 budget to acquire more Autogas vehicles. “With the $1 million, we can buy anywhere from 10 to 12 new buses, depending on which type of bus we need,” Kraynak said.

In 2018-19 district vehicles drove students a total of 2.26 million miles, and used a total of 265,120 gallons of diesel fuel, and Kraynak said the ongoing shift to Autogas is meant to cut down that latter number considerably. The transportation department budgeted for 60,000 gallons of LPG in 2019-20, and is increasing that figure to 90,000 in 2020-21, at a price per gallon of 96.5 cents, minus a federal rebate of 36 cents per gallon on LPG. Maintenance and other costs are also expected to drop considerably, as diesel buses are retired and replaced with newer Autogas ones.

There is another benefit that drivers and students on Autogas buses may notice too: the noise levels. “If you’re on a diesel bus, you pretty much can’t have a conversation without screaming If you’re on a propane bus, you can pretty much talk in a normal voice,” Kraynak said. “It’s really that quiet, and that really helps with student behaviour.”

A new round of federal grant money to fund Autogas bus purchases is now available, with applications due the 26th of February, and Kraynak said his department will be applying. In 2019 North Penn received a total of $459,000 in state grant money to fund the first round of Autogas buses, and an additional $155,000 for installation of a LPG tank to fuel them. For more information, please check this link.

19 February 2020