BUS REPORT August 2014
Propane buses? What’s all of the fuss about?
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding propane buses, but what is all of the fuss about? Hasn’t propane been around for years?
It’s true that propane is not a new fuel source, but its popularity in the school bus industry is definitely on the rise. As district budgets are tightened and environmental standards become as much of a public mandate as they are governmental, fleets are switching to alternative-fueled school buses to improve their image and their transportation budgets. Alternative fuels, such as CNG and propane, are “green” fuels that are less impactful on the environment and are cheaper, more efficient fuel sources.
But why propane?
There are many advantages to propane-fueled school buses, starting with the fact that propane is simply the world’s most popular clean-burning alternative fuel. For years, propane has been used for many things, from grilling steaks to heating homes, so most people are at least somewhat familiar with propane.
In addition, propane is abundant and produced in North America. In fact, more than 90 percent of the propane used in the U.S. is domestically-produced.
Like other alternative “green” fuels, propane is clean-burning with 20 percent less NOx and 12 percent less CO2 than gasoline. Clean fuel means cleaner exhaust – and clean air for young riders is never a bad thing!
Finally, propane is 40% less expensive than a gallon of diesel on a BTU basis. Even setting up propane infrastructure and fueling stations is a relatively low-cost, easy proposition.
What does a propane-fueled bus look like?
Built upon the popular Saf-T-Liner C2 model, Thomas Built’s propane-fueled Saf-T-Liner® C2 looks and maneuvers just like its diesel counterpart. From the outside, you may not even notice a difference. Just like the Saf-T-Liner C2, the propane-fueled C2 provides outstanding maneuverability, state-of-the-art driver ergonomics and the greatest visibility among all Type C buses. By switching to an alternative fuel, there are no sacrifices in style, performance, safety or comfort.
Under the hood, the propane-fueled Saf-T-Liner C2 comes complete with an Allison 2300 PTS Series transmission and an 8.0-liter liquid propane gas (LPG) engine with a fully-integrated CleanFUEL USA liquid propane injection system. The 2-tank set-up has a 70-gallon capacity and an estimated 300-mile range.
The propane-fueled Saf-T-Liner C2 is available with a GVWR of 33,000 lbs. and has a capacity of up to 81 passengers. It is also California Air Research Board-certified and exceeds EPA 2010 emissions requirements.
Is propane right for me?
Propane isn’t right for everyone, which is why Thomas Built Buses offers other alternative-fueled buses. In addition to the propane-fueled Saf-T-Liner C2, Thomas Built Buses also offers the Type A Minotour® in CNG and propane, and the Type D Saf-T-Liner HDX in CNG.
To determine which type of alternative fuel might be right for you, talk to your local dealer about different fueling options in your area, alternative fuel grants that may be available, and the most popular alternative fuels in your area. You can also visit Thomas Built’s website to learn more.