Students in East Chicago are among the first in northwest Indiana to ride on propane-fueled school buses. The School City of East Chicago began running the six new buses this month, thanks in part to a grant from the BP Whiting Refinery.
South Shore Clean Cities Inc., which helped the school district acquire funding to purchase the buses, says the buses emit 80 percent fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons virtually eliminate particulate matter compared to diesel-fueled buses. They create up to 20 percent less nitrogen oxide, up to 60 percent less carbon monoxide and up to 24 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
"Replacing diesel-powered school buses with propane-powered alternatives shows the value the School City of East Chicago places in lowering tailpipe emissions from their school bus fleet as well as improving the quality of life for those that ride, repair and reside around these buses," said Shawn Seals, senior environmental manager for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Air Quality.
The BP Whiting Refinery provided funding through Cleaner Air through Diesel Emissions Reductions, or BP CADER, grants. The School City of East Chicago first received more than $46,000 to install vehicle-tracking systems on 31 buses to monitor and reduce idling, followed by an additional $21,000 to convert two diesel-fueled buses into propane.
South Shore Clean Cities also provided $10,000 to the district after noticing leftover funds available in the BP CADER account. The buses were purchased from Indianapolis-based MacAllister Transportation.
The fuel systems in the buses were manufactured by ROUSH CleanTech, which says districts that switch to propane can save an average of up to $2,500 per bus per year on maintenance and 40 to 50 percent less on fuel.
"South Shore Clean Cities was pleased to be a part of the process to bring cleaner buses to the School City of East Chicago for the benefit of the students, faculty and staff as well as all of the citizens of East Chicago," said Carl Lisek, executive director of South Shore Clean Cities. "Working with South Shore Clean Cities members MacAllister Transportation and ROUSH CleanTech to provide state-of-the-art vehicles that provide financial savings and improved air quality helps the Hoosier economy and the environment."
(Pictured left to right) Regional Director for U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly Justin Mount, School City of East Chicago Superintendent Dr. Paige McNulty and Transportation Manager for the School City of East Chicago Robert Garcia stand in front of one of six new propane school buses.