Roanoke County Schools Go Green with New Buses

Roanoke County Schools Go Green with New Buses

ROANOKE COUNTY, VA -- Gone are the sounds of a massive diesel engine starting a school bus. Roanoke County's ten new propane engine school buses are so quiet, it's easy to forget they're on."I'll tell you as a driver, having a quieter ride, it's much easier to interact with students," said Roanoke County Schools bus driver Myron Powell.

He's not the only fan. The district's superintendent, Dr. Greg Killough says these buses are a double whammy. "I think you look for those perfect wins in everything. I mean green is really important, but it didn't hurt that we were able to save some money," he explained.

A traditional diesel bus costs about $90,000 and about $10,000 a year in fuel and maintenance. The new propane buses cost just under $100,000, but they only cost about $5,000 to operate annually.

And the fact that they're environmentally friendly is an added plus. "Less emissions, absolutely. Less emissions and the fuel efficiency. So, if you look at the cost benefit analysis of diesel versus propane, that's where you'll get the return as well," said John Batezel, the president of Carter Machinery Company in Salem. They supplied all ten of the buses for the school district.

With the official ribbon cutting, Roanoke County became the first school district in the area to have propane buses, and only the 6th district in the state to test them out. And the district is hoping they pass the test. "I mean, there may still be the need for some of the diesel in certain areas of the county where we have some really rough roads. And that will be one of the experiments to see how the propane buses handle some of the really mountainous terrain," said Killough.

The propane that powers these buses is the same propane that powers gas grills. Those have been known to explode in accidents. Representatives from Carter Machinery say these tanks are a lot tougher. Not only are these tanks crash proof, they're so strong that even a bullet couldn't get through them.

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