North Clay School District: First in State to Use Propane-Fueled Buses
North Clay Community School District located in Louisville, Illinois was the first school district in the state to operate propane-fueled school buses. According to the district’s transportation manager, Bryan West, they bought their first propane bus with the ROUSH CleanTech liquid propane injection system in 2000. The district now has three propane buses in their 17-bus fleet and plans to convert the entire fleet as budgets and time allow.
South Central FS, the local propane supplier for North Clay School District, based in Effingham, IL worked closely with West to assist in the design and installation of an onsite refueling station. Additionally, South Central FS administered training to help ensure the districts’ drivers were certified to operate the system for refueling the buses.
West estimates that over time the propane buses will save the district thousands of dollars in maintenance and fuel. “Not only is the fuel less expensive, but we save on maintenance costs in fuel filters, oil changes and not having to purchase diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) that is required with diesel engines,” West said. “Historically, we have seen a 20 to 50-cent per mile savings in fuel costs with propane.”
The buses still garner some complaints from the drivers. “The drivers complained that the children were louder on the buses, but the reality is that the buses are quieter,” West said. He added that parents on the bus routes also had to learn how to listen for the sound of tires on gravel instead of the sound of diesel engines. The buses also have the advantage in winter of not requiring engines to be heated overnight, and they warm up quicker than the diesel-fueled buses.
West and the school district find value in working with South Central FS as the team keeps North Clay School District up-to-date on technical advances that can help the fleet be even more cost effective over time.