Sioux City School District adds 3 more propane buses to fleet

SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City Community School Board voted Monday to add three more propane-fueled school buses to its fleet, another step to increase cost efficiency among the buses traveling the most miles within the district.

The district purchased its first propane-powered bus in March and plans to purchase two more next year, said Brian Fahrendholz, director of operations and maintenance. The buses will phase out the diesel buses that run the school’s six in-town “shuttle” routes, which Fahrendholz said have the most mileage among the fleet.

“They run between the high schools, down here for career academies and Harry Hopkins, so they’re constantly on the move,” he said.

The three 77-passenger C2 model school buses will be purchased from Thomas Bus Sales of Des Moines at $108,530 apiece, for a total amount of $325,590. 

Fahrendholz said propane fuel prices are quoted at 57 cents per gallon including rebates, much lower when compared to the $1.38 to $1.78 per gallon for diesel fuel. Although the buses will have 15 to 20 percent lower fuel efficiency, the reduction in fuel costs will still be substantial enough to offset.

While a comparable diesel bus would cost the district about $5,000 less, Fahrendholz said lower fuel costs will make up the difference within one year. He said the buses' life spans will be 10 to 12 years.

The board approved the recommendation 5-0. Board members David Gleiser and John Meyers were not in attendance.

The first propane-powered bus will arrive Aug. 1, with the three additional buses arriving in December. Fahrendholz said a request for two more will come before the board at this time next year.

Also on Monday, the the board approved the purchase of three new digital message signs from Avery Brothers of Sioux City for $104,909. Funded through the sales tax portion of the budget, the signs will replace the current signs in front of each of the three Sioux City high schools and will project early out times, school activities and other messages to communicate with the community and students. 

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