By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Y-C converts bus fleet to propane

The district is using 10 buses to run home-to school routes this year, but is planning to get by with nine next year. And all nine will operate on propane.

The district will retain three diesel-powered buses for longer trips, many of which are associated with the athletic program. They are larger and have more cargo-carrying capacity.

The district’s previous contract with Mid-Colubmia still had three years to run. The school board voted unanimously Monday to grant the company four extra years in exchange for the propane commitment.

 Superintendent Charan Cline recommended approval.

He said he was sold on the propane conversion. “I want to see us get there eventually,” he said, “and I think this is best all the way around.”

There was little discussion.

Board member Rick Yeo, who heads the district’s transportation committee, said he had all the information he needed. He said he also approved of the idea.

Tony Barnhart of Mid-Columbia provided a comprehensive cost comparison for the district’s consideration.

“He did his best to compare apples to apples,” Cline said. “He took the 10 routes we currently have and compared the amount of diesel that we did use to what we would have used if we would have been running propane.”

During the 2013-14 school year, the fleet ran 158,739 home-to-school and school-to-home miles, consuming 22,239 gallons of diesel at a total cost of $76,622. It buses averaged 7.1 miles per gallon at an average cost of $3.45.

Barnhart said buses only average 4.5 miles per gallon on propane, but propane is cheaper, adding the district’s total outlay on propane would have been $68,469, representing a saving of $8,153 or 10.65 percent.

Conversion to propane also offers other advantages. First, it burns cleaner than diesel. What’s more, the price can be locked in a year at a time, while diesel pricing is constantly fluctuating.

In other business, Cline told the board the district has commissioned a telephone survey to help it shape a proposed November bond issue.

The board is next scheduled to meet in regular session at 7 p.m. Monday, May 11. It will be preceded by a brief work session at 6:45.



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