- The Phillips School District covers 600 square miles. That means a lot of time on the bus for many students, and a lot in fuel costs. This year Phillips is trying something new, hoping that investing a little extra money now pays off down the road.
The Phillips School District bought two new buses for this school year. Both buses run entirely on propane, rather than diesel.
A propane bus costs just a little more than $93,000 dollars. That is $8,000 more than the cost of a diesel bus. But the district says in the long-term, propane is more cost effective.
"The difference in maintenance is definitely a cost savings, and then the amount of money you have to put into repairs of the exhaust system long term is one of the concerns that we had," said Phillips School District Superintendent Rick Morgan.
Lead Driver for the district, Jason McMillan, says a propane bus uses about half the oil of a diesel bus.
The district says lower maintenance costs are not the only benefit to propane buses.
"The heat's a little bit better we think than the traditional bus, the heating system is laid out a little bit differently, and because of the nature of the propane engine it's quieter," said Morgan.
Morgan says students find their rides are more comfortable. Drivers say the quieter engine provides more peace of mind.
"The quietness of the engine, you can hear the children better behind you, even though some children still scream or whatever, you can still hear them better," said McMillan.
The Phillips School District gets one new bus each year. Morgan says next year's bus will probably run on propane.
"We're just looking to try and run the fleet a little bit more cost effectively," said Morgan.
It's the start of a new trend McMillan thinks could run well into the future.
"I am very excited to replace some new ones and retire some of our older ones in the fleet," said McMillan.