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Sam Ham, head of the Fulton school district’s transportation department, said getting to a fleet with 53% propane buses has cost $20 million in SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) funds along with federal dollars. The school system has been steadily adding more to the fleet for three years.
He said each propane bus saves the district $3,000 a year. So next year, the first full year with a mostly propane fleet, the district will save $1.2 million compared to if they still had diesel buses, Ham said.
Lawmakers and parents alike are happy about propane-powered buses because neither children nor the environment benefit from diesel fumes.
Studies have shown that children will do better on English exams if are not breathing in bus diesel fumes.
“100 of my propane buses emit the same amount of stuff in the air as one diesel bus,” Ham said.
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When the district started this process three years ago, their oldest bus in the fleet was from 1999, Ham said. The goal is no bus older than 10 years.
“If we can get through this next year and luck into a little more money, we’ll be close to that 10-year cycle,” he said. His goal is a fleet powered only by propane.
Ham said he sometimes get questions about the safety of propane.
“It is extremely safe, the tanks that are on these buses are reinforced and have sundry safety valves,” he said. “You can fire guns into the darn things and the bullets aren’t puncturing the tanks, and they’ll rip through a diesel tank.”
Kids, don’t try that at home.
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Channel 2's Audrey Washington reports.