Lafayette deploys propane fuel school buses

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent Pat Cooper, left, and Director of Transportation Bruce Samec speak outside of one of the Lafayette Parish School System's new propane-powered buses Wednesday at the School Board office. The bus is one of eight purchased by the school system. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent Pat Cooper, left, and Director of Transportation Bruce Samec speak outside of one of the Lafayette Parish School System's new propane-powered buses Wednesday at the School Board office. The bus is one of eight purchased by the school system.

The wheels on Lafayette Parish school system’s newest buses still go round and round, but now eight of them use propane instead of diesel to transport students all over town.

The School Board approved the $710,000 purchase of eight propane-powered buses late last year, as a more cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly option to provide transportation to the district’s more than 30,000 students.

Fuel cost estimates for the propane-powered buses averages $4,000 a year compared to $8,400 in fuel costs for a diesel-powered bus, according to information provided by Bill Samec, district transportation director.

The savings will help the district put more into the classroom, Samec said Wednesday afternoon during a media tour of one of the new buses.

Lafayette Parish is the state’s first school district to purchase alternative-fuel buses, said Bruce Ross of Ross Bus and Equipment Sales, the state’s only Bluebird bus dealer.

“They’re the first to buy, but we’ve had interest from other districts,” Ross said. “A lot of them are wanting to see how it works out.”

The alternative-fuel buses provide a savings in fuel and maintenance costs, while also supporting Louisiana production of propane, Ross said.

“It’s a win-win for Louisiana,” he said. “Louisiana is the number two producer of propane in the United States.”