Toppenish hopes new propane school buses will save money

TOPPENISH, Wash. --Toppenish has a couple hip new buses in its fleet. Running on propane instead of diesel.

"I'm excited about driving one of the new buses, it's something different, we've never had one before," said Toppenish school bus driver Roy Hernandez.

The buses arrived a couple weeks ago, costing a little over one hundred grand a piece. Compare that to the last diesel purchase that was one-hundred twenty-six grand.

"I'm really excited to see if after all this time that the savings and the costs per mile down the road is going to be actually what we hope it will be," said Blaine Thorington, the Toppenish School District Transportation Director.

The next time Toppenish School bus drivers go to fuel up the school district will spend about two thirds less than a gallon of diesel.

Four bucks a gallon for diesel, compared to just $1.40 for propane. The buses don't get the same mileage per gallon, five miles for diesel compared to 3.75 for propane. So the school district is assessing the efficiency.

"We're all confident that we're going to save some money but right now we're not sure what that might be until we get some actual data," said Thorington.

Toppenish will also take in the longevity of the propane engines.

"We're kind of out there in the front of everything so we are truly the guinea pigs for propane school buses in this area," said Thorington.

The buses will be used for summer school routes to get an initial idea of efficiency before the school year begins. Hoping for big savings, with an alternative fuel.

One of the propane buses will be on display at the Yakima Convention Center next Monday if you'd like to check it out in person.