Bus systems going green: More districts in county switching to propane
More school buses in El Paso County will soon start using cleaner, cheaper propane instead of gasoline or diesel.
Officials of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the official energy conservation arm of the state government, said El Paso-area school districts are at the forefront of making sure their fleets are using better fuel alternatives.
In the past two years, all but one of the nine school districts in the county have bought at least two propane-fueled buses.
The Ysleta and El Paso independent school districts have gone further by replacing all surplus buses with propane buses, commission officials said.
And just last week, three more districts --the Socorro, Fabens and San Elizario school districts --announced they will increase efforts to replace old buses with propane-fueled ones.
"El Paso is one of those communities that has completely embraced the concept of propane-fueled buses," said Michael L. Williams, a railroad commissioner who was in El Paso last week to promote propane buses. "There are 37 districts statewide that use propane buses, and El Paso has eight of them. That says a lot."
In the past two years, the state has spent at least $15.7 million helping public school systems buy into propane.
A total of $1.7 million is left in the current budget to help districts that want to do more.
Oscar Anchondo, the director of transportation for the El Paso school district, said the district has taken full advantage of every opportunity to replace old buses with propane-powered ones.
Of the 306 buses the district now operates, 152 run on propane.
"It just makes sense for us in every single way," he said. "They are safer for the environment and cheaper for us to maintain."
Anchondo said the district spends $2.41 a gallon for buses that run on diesel. In comparison, the district spends $1.46 a gallon on propane.
"It's just a much, much better system for us," he said.
The state says it's much cleaner, too.
According to Railroad Commission figures, propane buses cut dangerous pollutant emissions by up to 99 percent.
State officials said this will become more important next year, when federal standards for ozone emissions will become ever tougher to meet.
"When you put your kids on that propane-powered bus, it's cleaner for the environment and it is much healthier for the city of El Paso," Williams said. "Plus, this is a fuel that is produced in Texas, so it keeps our employees in the state working and the economy running."
- Gustavo Reveles Acosta
Click here to view the story at the El Paso Times.
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