Written by Stephen Whaley, Propane Education & Research Council
When districts were faced with new challenges this school year, propane autogas buses were there to help transportation directors rise to meet the demands. Propane autogas provides the low emissions and cost-effective benefits districts need.
These are just a few of the dozens of propane autogas success stories to come out of the school bus industry this year.
At the start of the 2020 school year, more than 20,000 propane autogas buses were in fleets at public and private school districts across the United States, an annual increase of approximately 10 percent, according to new data compiled by PERC from IHS Polk new vehicle registration figures. It’s also the first full school year with propane autogas buses in use by more than 1,000 school districts or contractors.
Since 2012, there’s been a 960 percent growth in the number of propane autogas school buses on the road in the U.S., marking a strong eight-year stretch for propane autogas in the school transportation market. The buses transport more than 1.2 million students in 48 states, and 14 states now have more than 500 propane autogas buses within their borders.
Propane autogas school buses are also succeeding with repeat purchases. According to the data, 63 percent of school districts with Type C propane autogas school buses adopt additional propane buses, outperforming other alternative fuels. Propane continues to be the most popular alternative fuel for the school bus industry.
Middle School Student Successfully Petitions District for Propane Bus Jack Kendrick, a 7th grade student at League Academy in Greenville, South Carolina, loves buses. Specifically propane autogas buses.
After seeing other propane buses at his school, Kendrick, who was born with autism, wrote a letter to his school district requesting a propane-powered special education bus. The letter, which read “out with the old, in with the new” and featured a drawing of a propane school bus, resonated with the transportation director for the state Department of Education and the state superintendent. At the beginning of the 2020 school year, Kendrick’s propane autogas bus was adopted into the fleet.
The Propane Council recognized Kendrick’s efforts with the inaugural Clean Energy Hero Award, given in recognition of an individual’s pursuit to improve their community’s air quality and environment by leading clean energy initiatives. Tucker Perkins, PERC’s president and CEO, presented Kendrick with the award in front of his classmates at an event in late October.
As the numbers reflect, several districts adopted propane autogas buses this year for the first time, and many others expanded their fleets. These are just a few highlights from the year.
Interested in learning more about propane autogas school buses and infrastructure? Hear from PERC, Midwest Transit Equipment and Co-Alliance in Greater Indiana Clean Cities’ Propane Autogas Answers webinar.