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Wayne Twp Schools adding 20 propane buses to fleet

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The MSD of Wayne Township just received delivery of 20 brand new school buses, but these are the first of their kind for the district because they run on propane instead of diesel fuel.

“We’re really excited about the new propane buses,” bus driver Donna Bonesteel said.

Bonesteel has sat behind the wheel of a Wayne Township school bus for more than 20 years. She’s happy about the new alternative fuel vehicles and their impact on the environment.

“Even having just the 20 propane buses is going to make a huge difference in the emissions,” Bonesteel said.

Along with having lower amounts of pollution in the air, Bonesteel said there are many other perks to the propane. She said the buses are significantly quieter than diesel buses.

“They sound so quiet when they’re running,” Bonesteel noted. “You’ll be able to hear more of what the children are doing, you’ll be able to interact with the children more.”

She said a new feature of floorboard heaters through the length of the bus will make the kids more comfortable in cold weather, whereas older buses have hot and cold spots throughout the bus.

“All the children will have the same warmth in the wintertime, so that’s awesome,” Bonesteel said. “I’m really thrilled about that and I think all the kids will be, too.”

And Wayne Township Director of Transportation Janet Petrisin is also excited about the cost savings with propane.

“It’s about $1.15 per gallon for propane right now, as opposed to $2.50 per gallon for diesel,” Petrisin said.

Petrisin said a grant of $45,000 helped cover the additional cost of nearly $100,000 to make the 20 buses burn propane.

The propane option will end up meaning big cost savings over the 12-15 year lifespan of the buses.

“Over that time period we’ll save about $700,000 in maintenance and fuel costs,” Petrisin said.

Eventually all Wayne Township buses will have the green stickers that show the bus burns propane.

“Every year we’ll be replacing our diesel fleet with ten new propane buses until eventually we have our entire fleet turned over to alternative fuel,” Petrisin said.

She also said they are getting an environmental rebate on the actual propane fuel right now, so they want to get the buses on the road as soon as possible.