With propane school buses, Snyder Bus Lines is implementing eco-friendly practices that not only benefit the environment but also sustain a family business. The rural school bus contractor, which serves three school districts, maintains a fleet of around 40 school buses. Over 30 are powered by propane autogas, a domestically produced, affordable, clean alternative fuel.
“Propane buses have sustained our family business, offering reliability, cost-efficiency and environmental benefits,” said Jennifer Snyder, co-owner of Snyder Bus Lines. “I’m not sure we would have stayed open through the pandemic without the fuel’s operational savings.”
The company purchases used propane buses that allow reinvestment in business growth. Its oldest Blue Bird Vision Type C propane bus is still operational with very few maintenance requirements. Today, nearly all routes in the Everett and Bedford school districts operate on propane.
“Propane buses are the greatest thing that's ever happened to us,” said Corey Snyder, co-owner of Snyder Bus Lines, which has been family-owned since the 1940s. “They’re truly a great fit for us.”
Snyder Bus Lines partners with AmeriGas, a Pennsylvania-based propane supplier, to supply its two 1,000-gallon on-site propane stations. The company currently pays $1.50 per gallon for propane before applying the federal alternative fuel tax credit, which reduces per gallon costs by an additional $0.37. Snyder estimates that they’ll use around 130,000 gallons of propane this school year.
Propane buses offer substantial savings in maintenance and operational costs compared to traditional diesel buses, which rely on costly particulate filters and consume more oil. “Our mechanics love them,” said Corey. “Their cost of operation compared to our diesel buses is amazing. There are definitely fewer maintenance issues with our propane buses than the typical diesel bus.”
A growing trend among school districts and school bus contractors, propane autogas offers the lowest total cost of ownership while helping fleets stay ahead of emissions regulations. “Propane is the common sense approach — it works and will do the job you need it to while meeting regulations,” said Todd Mouw, executive vice president of ROUSH CleanTech, the manufacturer of the propane fuel system. “In an increasingly complex world, propane keeps things simple for fleet operators.”
Looking ahead, Corey and Jennifer Snyder plan to continue expanding their propane fleet while maintaining a few diesel buses. “The customers we serve are very happy, and our drivers and passengers are very happy,” said Jennifer.
There are about 1,400 propane school buses in operation across Pennsylvania and more than 22,000 in the U.S.