Cassia County School District use three new propane-run buses

Published: May. 31, 2018 at 6:12 PM MDT
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The last day of school was Thursday for Cassia County students and some rode home in style. The school district recently received three new propane-run buses.

Jim Hamilton, the transportation supervisor for the school district, said they bought two in 2017.

"We liked them so we bought three more this year. We just got them in last week," Hamilton said.

Out of 63 buses the school district has, they have five that run on propane. The rest are on diesel.

"The difference in the propane and the diesel buses that we have been running with all the emissions control. There is so much expense in the emissions that we went to propane because you don't have to have all the after treatment stuff on there," he said. "They will pull a little less fuel economy, but the cost of propane, by far, is different from the diesel."

Hamilton said they save $4,000 with a propane bus compared to a bus with diesel.

"That will be fuel, oil changes, six quarts of oil versus 19. A $30 air filter for a diesel versus a $6 air filter for propane," he explained.

He said that propane "scares people," but assures that there are many safety features.

"The safety features put into these buses is such that it will not explode. If you have a fire under the bus, they're designed to vent to the roadside," he said. "They will start relieving at 300 to 350 pounds of pressure. As that releases, propane is cool so it will form a frost of the tank, which cools that down and it'll quit venting out."

He added that if the fire continues, it will do the same thing until it's completely out of fuel so that it wouldn't explode.

Hamilton said the noise of the engine is reduced 50 percent with a propane bus as well.

Bus driver Toni Ray can concur with that as she drives a propane bus.

"It's more quieter," she said.

Come this summer, Ray would be a bus driver with the district for 25 years.

"I love it. If I didn't, I most certainly wouldn't," she said. "There's a lot of people out that there say it's a hard job, but I totally love it."

She said she also noticed that the propane bus did not give off a smell like the diesel-run buses do.

"When they do the diesel, it's quite smelly. This is clean and it drives perfect," she said.

Hamilton said the funds come from the state doing a depreciation.

"They take and pay us per year, per every bus we have in deprecation, and we take that money and invest it in new buses," he said.

He said they are keeping close tabs on the expenses this year.

"For a town bus, I do like the propane. I'm not sold over the roads yet just for the availability in the propane. It's much easier to pull in and fuel up for diesel for a driver, but in town we can take care of that," he said.