LONDONDERRY — Special education buses in town may someday run on both gasoline and propane.
A new five-year special education contract for transportation was approved by the School Board last month. Officials will now decide whether buses will run with a dual fuel system.
Kim Carpinone, director of pupil services, said Londonderry’s current bus service, Provider, has the capacity to bring that fuel system to town.
Adding propane could save money and offer a better environment for the students riding those buses.
“It’s a cleaner, greener form of fuel,” she said, “and cheaper.”
Carpinone, along with Provider’s Garrett Scholes and Jim Proulx of Proulx Oil and Gas spoke to board members last month about the possible conversion.
Proulx said propane is a safe way to run the buses.
If put into place in Londonderry’s special education buses, the system would be a dual form, using both gasoline and propane.
Propane tanks are 20 times stronger than gasoline or diesel tanks.
“They have a very strong record,” Scholes said.
All propane use on buses have Department of Transportation and also EPA certifications, Scholes said.
“It’s a good system,” he said.
That includes a cleaner use, generating 60 percent less carbon monoxide emission as fuel burns in the vehicle.
Scholes said it could also prove healthier to students with respiratory, noise or other sensitivities.
With the dual system, the buses would operate on both fuels, starting on gas. Then, at 135 degrees, the system switches over to propane with no interruption in service.
If the propane runs low, it switches back to gasoline, Scholes said.
Other school districts using the Provider services are successfully using propane. District business administrator Peter Curro said it would be worth looking into as the district has a mission to explore other forms of fuel and energy usage to help keep costs down.
Carpinone said there could be a potential $32,400 in savings to the district over the course of the five-year bus contract.
The School Board approved the contract to use Provider for special education, but will vote on the propane fuel system at a later time.