Portland Public Schools adds propane buses to fleet
By Lee van der Voo
New propane-powered buses were unveiled at an event last week. Click through to see more.
Students at Portland Public Schools are now riding state-of-the-art propane buses thanks to an updated contract with First Student Inc. and a federal grant to CleanFUEL USA.
As they hit the streets, those buses signal not only sustained interest in propane fuel for fleet transportation, but also increased public and private investments in modern propane vehicles and a move by General Motors to edge further into the propane market.
Teri Brady, interim director of student transportation for Portland Public Schools, said last week that the district first began integrating propane into its fleet in 1983. Today, 100 percent of its student transportation vehicles provided under contract are propane-fueled, along with nearly half of district-owned vehicles.
Propane fleet vehicles save money on fuel and maintenance costs, are quieter, and also reduce carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and total hydrocarbon emissions.
Brady said district officials recently sought to update their fleet while negotiating a roughly 14-year-old contract with First Student, which provides student transportation for half the district’s special education routes and its 100 regular education routes.
First Student, a division of Cincinnati-based FirstGroup America, is the largest provider of student transportation in North America. It has more than 54,000 buses on the roads in the United States and Canada and also owns First Transit Inc., a demand-response transit company, and Greyhound Lines Inc.
“With our brand new contract, one of the requests was we wanted to have all new buses,” said Brady.
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