While the district’s school buses will still be yellow, Greensburg Salem School District is “going green” with the decision to move from diesel-fueled transports to having its large buses powered by liquid propane fuel at the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
Greensburg Salem’s school board voted unanimously at the recessed regular board meeting on February 13th to award a five-year bus transportation contract to DMJ Transportation, allowing the district to join the growing ranks of schools nationwide choosing liquid propane (LP) powered buses for a cleaner, safer, and cost-effective ride for its students.
Transitioning from traditional diesel-fueled transportation to a fleet of LP buses is a step toward engaging in more eco-friendly practices within the district. Liquid propane is recognized as an approved clean alternative fuel under the 1990 Clean Air Act, as well as the National Energy Policy Act of 1992 and 2005. Compared to diesel buses, propane technology reduces air pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, along with the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, according to the Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.
Greensburg Salem’s Coordinator of Transportation Dr. Chris Suppo anticipates the change to not only minimize the district’s carbon footprint, but to have significant benefits to students and their families.
“Aside from the environmental benefits of liquid propane buses over diesel fuel, there are also significant health benefits to students and staff, “says Dr. Suppo. “The LP buses also start easier in cold weather, warm up quicker, and run much quieter. The use of these buses also supports our regional natural gas industry, as most of the propane gas used in the U.S. comes from domestic production.”
With the arrival of propane 72-passenger buses at the start of the 2017-2018 school year, students will begin a healthier and safer ride to and from school. Because the buses are significantly quieter during operation, drivers will be able to better attend to and interact with riders while focusing on the road ahead. Clean burning, low-emission propane is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a non-contaminant of air, eliminating exposure to diesel exhaust fumes for all those aboard.
The district will incur substantial savings with the switch to alternative fuel. According to the Propane Education & Research Council, liquid propane fuel is consistently less expensive than diesel, and the vehicles are less costly to repair than diesel-run transports. The estimated savings cost to the district could reach approximately $40,000.00 per year.
DMJ Transportation, based in Mount Pleasant, currently serves 13 local school districts and the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit with their fleet of 110 vehicles. Greensburg Salem has contracted with DMJ Transportation for the past several years to provide busing for students to charter schools and alternative placements.
Owner Lisa Barron reported, “We are thrilled that Greensburg Salem has chosen DMJ to meet its transportation needs for the next five years. This is a direct result of our local reputation and the outstanding service provided by our drivers over the past fifteen years. We will be working over the next six months to ensure a seamless transition to propane and invite the district’s current drivers to join our team.”
DMJ will purchase 24 liquid propane-powered buses, which will begin hitting the roads in August with the start of the school year. It is anticipated that the entire large bus fleet will transition to liquid propane fuel over the course of the 2017-2018 school year.
“We are happy that our students boarding and unboarding vehicles, as well as teachers and administrators on bus duty, will now be able to breathe in much healthier air,” stated district Superintendent, Dr. Eileen Amato, of the transition.