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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 2:20 PM

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Forty-nine new Blue Bird Vision buses are part of the Cleveland school district's new fleet. Photo by Blue Bird Corp.

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.

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.

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