A photo of an orange school bus with a propane sticker on the back.

Case study evaluates the environmental and economic benefits and costs of switching to propane school buses

Some school districts across the nation think they have found the answer to the common 21st century concern: how do we stretch tight budgets and be more environmentally sustainable in the process?

Five school bus fleets found that switching to propane-powered school buses provided one promising option, according to a new case study recently released by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The case study highlights the benefits and challenges of deploying propane in school bus fleets. It also describes how some of the school districts saved nearly 50% on a cost per mile basis for fuel and maintenance relative to diesel, in addition to seeing a variety of other environmental and social benefits.

Overall, fuel economy for these propane vehicles was close to that of the diesel vehicles they replaced, on an energy-equivalent basis. In addition, the 110 propane buses described in the study eliminated the use of 212,000 diesel gallon equivalents and 770 tons of greenhouse gases per year.

By using the Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool, the study showed that the fleets recouped the incremental costs of the vehicles and infrastructure within three to eight years.

Compressed Natural Gas Shows Promise for Refuse Fleets

A previous Argonne case study highlights how three fleets from very different types of organizations used CNG refuse trucks to successfully save money on fuel while taking advantage of other benefits, such as low criteria pollutant emissions, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and quieter operation. For more information, see the Compressed Natural Gas Refuse Fleets case study.

  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • For more information:
  • Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team
  • technicalresponse@icfi.com
  • 800-254-6735