PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Wood County Schools welcomed its first propane-powered school bus Wednesday, the second of its kind in West Virginia.
The district purchased the Saf-T-Liner C2 Propane bus from Matheny Motors. The bus originally was a demonstration model the dealership took to other school systems to show the benefits of propane vehicles, said Larry Fowler, sales manager for Matheny Motors.
Only one other school system – Monongalia County Schools – uses a propane-fueled school bus, but officials expect that will quickly change.
“The state recently did away with the reimbursements for bio-diesel vehicles, so the only alternative fuel choice is propane,” Fowler said. “A lot of counties are now looking at propane buses as a way to save money.”
“I think it’s a great day,” said Wood County Schools Superintendent John Flint. “Any time we can improve our fleet in a way that saves taxpayer money, it’s a good thing.”
Officials said the propane-fueled bus offers several advantages over diesel-fueled vehicles. In addition to the lower cost of propane compared to diesel, the engines of propane-fueled buses are simpler than their diesel counterparts because propane produces fewer emissions.
“It’s a cleaner fuel,” said Dave Moore, state school bus inspector for the West Virginia Department of Education. “Diesel engines also required much more maintenance. They’ll save money on fuel costs and also on maintaining the vehicle.”
Richard Lance, director of transportation for Wood County Schools, said the state offers a higher reimbursement rate for the propane buses. If the school system is happy with the performance of this vehicle and if it truly saves the district money, Lance said, officials will look to add more propane-fueled buses in the coming years.
“I’m very excited,” Lance said. “We will definitely be looking at more of these buses.”