Rhoads Powers Successful Propane Conversion for Council Rock School Buses

Bus rides have been much quieter for students of Council Rock School District this semester — and much less expensive for taxpayers.

This school year, Council Rock School District rolled out a new fleet of 150 propane-powered buses to transport 14,000 students twice a day. The board approved the conversion from diesel because propane buses are cleaner, quieter and cost far less to operate than diesel buses.

Rhoads Energy, a full-service energy company based in Lancaster, installed propane fueling stations at the Bucks County district’s two bus depots and provides the propane that fuels the program’s 150-vehicle fleet. Other partners in the fleet conversion include ROUSH CleanTech, the propane engine experts, and Blue Bird, the school transportation company. In 2014, the same companies helped launch the propane school bus fleet for Hempfield School District in Lancaster County.

Now, as the first semester draws to a close at Council Rock, the advantages of the conversion have become tangible for the district, according to Jennifer Goldbach, the Director of Business Development for Rhoads Energy. Goldbach guided the development of propane infrastructure for the district.

“Council Rock has begun to realize the cost savings that propane has provided to other districts,” Goldbach said. “Students and the community at large have also enjoyed the advantage of a quieter ride with far less environmental impact.”

Propane buses reduce smog-producing hydrocarbon emissions by 80% and are 50% quieter than traditional buses, which is better for both students and the environment. Bob Reinhart, the district’s Director of Business Administration, has estimated that the switch to propane will save Council Rock $2.5 million in fuel costs over the next seven years.

Goldbach notes that propane currently costs less than half as much as diesel, and propane buses are cheaper to maintain than their diesel counterparts — key reasons why several more Pennsylvania districts are exploring conversion to propane. Propane buses have been fueled and operated safely in other districts for more than 30 years.Propane tank for fueling Council Rock School District buses