Kyrene School District’s Transportation Department introduced 25 propane-fueled buses this school year in efforts to increase savings on transportation costs.
Eric Nethercutt, director of transportation facilities at Kyrene, said the district looked at several alternative-fuel vehicles, and decided propane was the most cost-effective solution.
The initial push for propane buses for Kyrene came about during a conference in Mesa where Mesa Public Schools was pioneering using propane buses for transporting its students.
“They had over 100 propane buses, so we were working closely with them,” Nethercutt said.
Nethercutt and his team went around the local districts and compared options to save on transportations and decided that propane was the right resource for Kyrene.
“Propane was a no-brainier for me because it’s easy to purchase the buses and the infrastructure for propane is very simple,” Nethercutt said. “We haven’t had them very long, but we’ve had great luck with them. The propane buses run quieter than diesel buses … so there is better communication between drivers and students.”
According to Kyrene’s website, the addition of propane buses will reduce transportation cost around the district by 50 percent.
The savings is due to propane being $2 per gallon less than diesel fuel, Nethercutt said.
Along with the cost reduction, each propane bus is equipped with three-point seat belt harnesses to improve safety for students.
“What we are seeing is that students take right to the seat belts just like they do to a seat belt in a car because they’re the exact same,” Nethercutt said.
Propane is also a “greener” solution when it comes to transportation because it has lower emissions than diesel, Nethercutt said.
Within the next three years, Kyrene plans to convert its 133 fleet of diesel buses to propane.
“Once our diesel buses get worn out and it’s time to replace them, we’re going to start replacing them with propane buses,” Nethercutt said. “We refer to it as a soft conversion.”
Funds for the addition of the propane buses were allocated from the maintenance and operation budget override approved by voters last year.
For additional information about the district’s transportation, visit www.kyrene.org.
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