South Bend schools consider propane-fueled school buses

Mayor Pete Buttigieg and South Bend Community School Corp. Superintendent Dr. Carole Schmidt discussed a proposal to buy propane-fueled school buses on Wednesday at LaSalle Intermediate Center, 2701 Elwood Avenue.

Propane-fueled buses offer an energy-efficient alternative to the diesel-fueled buses currently in the School Corporation's fleet. Each year the School Corporation replaces 20 diesel-fueled buses at an average cost of $88,500 each. A propane-fueled bus costs $98,800, but the School Corporation estimates an energy savings of $38,735 over the typical 12-year life span of a school bus.

"The School Corporation would get a full return on the additional $10,300 investment in about two and a half years," says Jon Burke, South Bend's Municipal Energy Director, noting that propane is cleaner-burning than diesel and more fuel efficient.

Mayor Buttigieg, Dr. Schmidt, Burke, and Kevin Neafie, Director of Transportation for the Tippecanoe School Corporation in Lafayette, Indiana, talked to LaSalle students about exploring alternative fuels. After the presentation, Mayor Buttigieg and Dr. Schmidt joined the students for a ride on a propane-fueled bus.