School Business Affairs July-August 2019

40 JULY/AUGUST 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS Cold weather and hilly terrain can take their toll on buses. Transporting Students in Challenging Climates By Todd Mouw W inters are tough for school bus transportation in New York’s Chenango Forks Central School District. In the district’s snowy river valley, most bus routes have at least two hills. According to Lloyd L. Peck, superintendent of schools, “It’s imperative that our school buses main- tain their power on hills. We weren’t willing to compromise performance.” Cold-weather starts are also on district administrators’ minds. In January and February 2019, tem- peratures averaged about 18 degrees in the region. The district explored the feasibility of propane autogas to fuel its buses on the basis of its reported performance in cold conditions. The district subsequently began to adopt propane school buses in 2012. The first few propane buses were purchased with a rebate from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the state registered with the Internal Rev- enue Service to obtain alternative fuel tax credits. During the next six years, the school dis- trict purchased propane buses to replace its diesel models. Currently, 17 propane school buses—57% of the district’s fleet—transport Chenango Forks students. On the Road Drivers report that the propane buses tackle hills with ease. “We’ve found that our pro- pane buses have more power than diesel buses, giving our drivers confidence,” Peck relates. “In addition, we appreciate the buses’ quick starts and warm-up times in transportation As fall turns to winter in many school districts, the cold weather can affect buses’ performance and the districts’ transportation budget. ONEPONY/STOCK.ADOBE.COM PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROUSH CLEANTECH