This week, FleetOwner Magazine took a look at one of the propane-powered school buses from Blue Bird. And anyone expecting some kind of futuristic hovercraft will be disappointed. This bus is big and yellow (and it probably has a tiny fan by the driver seat, like school bus drivers always use). The difference between a diesel bus and an LPG bus is just the fuel system.
Joe Allen, a technician with the Texas-based Rush Bus Centers, gives a quick video tour. “You fill your propane up just like you do your barbecue pit,” he says, flipping open the gas cap. The model runs on two 40-gallon propane cylinders, and takes about five minutes for a fill up. There are no special cold weather considerations either, Allen says. All of which may help demystify propane buses for school administrators thinking about switching fuels.
(Blue Bird has a full rundown on its propane buses, which you can read here.)
School districts may also find that (with a bit of paperwork) the price is right for LPG. Blue Bird puts the cost of a propane bus at $10,000 to $15,000 more than its diesel counterpart, but says rebates and tax credits can cancel out the difference. Diesel trumps propane on availability, but the LPG is cheaper when you find it. One Iowa school district that recently made the switch said it would be paying 65 cents a gallon, after factoring in federal tax incentives.
Have a look at the video: