School District Spotlight

School District: Kansas City Public Schools

Interviewee: Chris Walls

Title: Director of Transportation

Students returning to Kansas City Public Schools are riding in brand new propane autogas buses. The majority of the district’s school bus fleet now operates on this emission-reducing, economical fuel. The 155 Blue Bird school buses provide a quiet ride and low emissions that attracted the district.

Kansas City is a progressive, tech-focused city, and, according to Chris Walls, director of transportation for KCPS, the district is always looking to provide outstanding service for its students. In addition to reducing emissions, the propane school buses are much quieter. That means the driver can hear and communicate better with the students on board. Plus, the local neighborhood will no longer have to deal with the district’s former noisy diesel bus warm ups at 4 a.m.

Recent studies have shown that propane school buses are a proven way to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in American communities. The KCPS propane buses will reduce NOx emissions by over 55,000 pounds and particulate matter by almost 500 pounds each year compared with the diesel buses they replaced.

The district, which contracted with Student Transportation of America, pays 50 percent less per gallon for propane compared with diesel, for an expected savings of about $500,000 annually. It also anticipates another $55,000 savings each year in maintenance costs. Walls says that every dollar saved in transportation ends up back in the classroom.

The fuel system technology on these buses offers reliable performance in cold weather all the way down to negative 40 degrees. Operating propane buses provides peace of mind to the district because the fuel can handle extreme conditions without impacting the driver.

The district recently installed a propane station on school grounds that can fuel four buses at a time. And, as Walls says, “It was a simple decision for us to choose propane because everyone wins.”

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