School District Opts for Propane School Buses

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TOBYHANNA TOWNSHIP -- Some buses in the Poconos don't look any different from your typical diesel school bus. But if you take a closer look, you'll see that these buses run on propane.

The Pocono Mountain School District purchased 25 of these environmentally friendly rides.

"They perform much better. They are efficient, they have lower maintenance cost and are very good for our environment," said Donald Kunkel, Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor.

Propane buses produce less carbon dioxide than the diesel buses the district normally uses.

The buses will be used to take students to and from the Pocono Mountain West Campus, near Mount Pocono.

"We cover 305 square miles and we put on approx. 3.5 million miles per year. We will save from this significantly. The maintenance costs once again are huge. We eliminate all emissions components. We will save over 40 percent just in fuel compared to diesel -- there is a big savings to be made," said Kunkel.

A nice part about these buses is that you can barely hear them. Also, the fumes are a lot cleaner than diesel.

"You won't see any black smoke coming out of these. Propane burns very clean," said Kunkel.

The district only paid $3,000 more per bus than it normally would for a diesel bus. But, it expects to see a savings return within one year.

The hope is to add more propane buses as the older diesel fleet ages.

A propane fueling station is also slated to be built at Pocono Mountain West this fall.


  • David Gable

    Propane autogas stations cost about 1/10 of the cost of a nat gas refueling station and consume much less power. Propane pressures run around 150-300 psi while natural gas is compressed to 3600 psi, thus requiring much larger pumps and compressors (which require significantly more electric power). You also have to be on a natural gas main as opposed to propane which can be installed virtually anywhere. Both propane and natural gas emit about 20% fewer emissions than gasoline or diesel fuel and are produced in America, thus reducing our dependence on imported energy. The Bluebird propane buses are equipped with a Ford 6.8 liter V-10 engine which works pretty well in all types of terrain and have proven to be virtually bullet proof. The latest entry into the propane school bus market is IC (International) which is using an 8.8 liter engine developing about 100 lbs more torque than the Bluebird with peak torgue comparable to diesel engines.

  • Larry Morris

    Fueling station is still a substantial cost, Engines run a higher rpm’s due to less power leading to earlier engine failure and pushing maintenance higher. On Flat ground it’s a great idea, but for mountainous terrain not so good.

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