Around 15 years ago, the Indian River County School District embarked on an ambitious journey to explore alternative fuels to comply with new emission standards and manage budget limitations imposed by the government. The district sought a cleaner, cost-effective solution and turned to propane autogas technology. It became the first in Florida to introduce three propane autogas school buses as a pilot project.
‘”There’s a lot less labor needed to get buses back in service,” said Gary Crumbacker, warehouse foreman for Indian River County School District. “The maintenance has been easier on the propane units compared with the diesel units. And the repair costs are much lower than diesel.” Propane has made life easier on the maintenance staff because it doesn’t require the costly after-treatment measures needed for diesel vehicles. No modifications were needed to the school district’s maintenance facility. Most fleets can save up to 50% in maintenance costs with propane vehicles. “The basic preventative maintenance cost of a propane bus is $18.84. The same cost on our diesel buses runs $65.98 for air and fuel filters,” said Crumbacker. “The savings here are more than triple.”‘
Presently, the district operates 100% of its school bus routes using 83 propane-powered buses, transporting 6,000 students daily. The buses have demonstrated impressive longevity and durability, with two vehicles clocking 200,000 miles with minimal maintenance issues. The district’s use of ROUSH CleanTech propane fuel systems in its buses, especially the newer models that are 90% cleaner than current emission standards, has established it as a leader in clean fleet operations for schools nationwide. The Indian River County School District’s success in adopting propane-powered buses has set an example for over 1,000 school districts nationwide, contributing to environmental sustainability and financial stability.