Northside ISD receives $2 million to support use of propane-fueled buses

August 25, 2011

The Railroad Commission of Texas presented Northside ISD with a check for more than $2 million Wednesday to help pay for propane-fueled school buses as well as upgrades to the District's propane fueling stations.

Currently, the District has a fleet of 850 school buses. Of those, 383 are powered by propane. The majority of the other buses run on diesel fuel.

Propane fuel costs about $1.48 per gallon, while diesel fuel costs about $2.76 per gallon. In addition to being cheaper, propane also is cleaner and safer for the community. Propane buses are more expensive to purchase than diesel buses, but the District ultimately will recoup the costs through the savings in fuel costs.

"This continues the District's history of going green and saving green," Superintendent John Folks said. "These buses allow us to reduce air pollutants by using cleaner, Texas-produced fuel, while also saving taxpayer money."

The $2 million comes from stimulus grants awarded to the Railroad Commission from the U.S. Department of Energy and the State Energy Conservation Office.

"You just can't get any better than having Texas jobs and Texas energy create something good for Texas school kids," said Railroad Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Ames Jones, who presented the check to Dr. Folks and Trustees Karen Freeman and Katie Reed at the North Transportation Center on Hausman Road.

Northside ISD's history with propane goes back to 1981, when the District modified gas-burning engines to run on propane. At one point, the majority of the District's bus fleet was powered by propane, but in 2002, because of market conditions, bus manufacturers stopped making the engines that could be converted to propane.

In 2007, Northside ISD became the first district in the nation to purchase a new fleet of buses fueled exclusively by propane. Over the past two years, the District has purchased 122 propane school buses, and today, NISD has the second largest propane school bus fleet in the state.

About 54,000 students are transported on buses each day, and NISD buses travel about 9.1 million miles annually.

The Railroad Commission of Texas presented NISD with a $2 million check to help purchase propane buses. From left are Superintendent John Folks, Board of Trustees President Karen Freeman, Trustee Katie Reed, and Railroad Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Ames Jones.