New Propane-Powered Buses to Aid Efficiency, Save Costs

One of the new propane-powered buses purchased by the district, labeled with the green bird logo above the driver's side window.

Ferndale School District Director of Transportation Kelly Johnson has announced the purchase of five propane-powered school buses. The buses will provide increased efficiency and cost savings for the district.

Two of the propane buses, both full-length school buses, have arrived and have been in use by district transportation since October. Three additional propane buses, each short-length buses, are scheduled to arrive and be put to use during the current academic year.

The school district needed to replace five buses according to the depreciation schedule cycle. Johnson noted a trend around the state of increased use of propane buses. The decision to replace outgoing buses with propane buses was made after significant research, consultation with other districts and price comparisons.

“The increased efficiency, ease of maintenance and phenomenal fuel rebates are all positives for us,” Johnson said in reference to the decision-making process.

Among the cost savings, the switch to propane offers a 30 percent savings in maintenance costs for the new vehicles. Additionally, a propane credit offered by vendor Bryson Bus Sales offers one year of free fuel for each bus. A state clean fuel rebate of 50 cents per gallon also helps in providing significant fuel cost savings.

“The cost savings will help us save money and put that money into other features related to technology safety and efficiency,” Johnson said.

The anticipated cost savings from the propane buses will allow the district to look at GPS, routing software and student safety feature upgrades for the entire fleet of buses utilized by the district.

Ferndale School District Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn says that pursuing efficiencies and avoiding cost is always at the top of her mind. “Purchasing energy-efficient buses allows us to save money and put that money towards what is most important – students. I am very supportive of Kelly’s efforts to look at new technology for our buses.”

The propane school buses can be identified by green bird logos located above the bus driver’s side window and loading doors, as opposed to the bird logo in black found on gas and diesel buses. Additionally, the propane buses are labeled with a green sticker near the loading doors.

The Ferndale School District plans to evaluate the possibility of future propane bus purchases based on the performance of the first five. Assuming all goes well, the transportation department hopes to add additional propane buses as current buses reach the end of the depreciation cycle.

The Ferndale School District has 40 bus routes serving all schools in the district. An average of 2,700 students use school bus transportation in the district out of approximately 4,700 total students. Learn more about district transportation on the district transportation page.