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Cleveland School District’s New Propane-Fueled Buses Will Save Money, Reduce Emissions

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This fall, Cleveland’s public school students will head back to the classroom on a new fleet of buses. School officials say they’ll cut costs, and carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. For State Impact Ohio, Joanna Richards reports.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Most of the district’s 325 new buses run on diesel fuel. But 49 use propane instead.

A calculator by the advocacy group Clean Fuels Ohio shows that will cut carbon emissions in Cleveland by about 1 one-thousandth of a percent.

Still, with the government pinning almost a third of the nation’s greenhouse gases on transportation, it’s a step in the right direction.

"What we were looking at were a couple of things," said Nick Jackson, deputy chief of the school district's business operations. "One, how can we be environmentally friendly? And how can we have a more economical fleet to run?"

Jackson estimates the move will save about $170,000 each year. Propane is about half the cost of diesel, and the buses are also cheaper to maintain. Since propane is cleaner-burning, it creates less engine buildup.

"Where a diesel engine may use four or five gallons of oil, this will only use maybe a gallon and a half of oil. Where the filter for a diesel engine is twenty, twenty-five dollars, for liquid propane it will probably be five dollars," Jackson said.

The new diesel buses, too, bring advantages. Tighter standards mean they’ll emit a lot fewer cancer-causing particulates, and far less nitrogen oxide, which creates smog.