Popular cartoon character Hank Hill would be proud of the Fulton County school system for its push to replace its fleet of diesel buses with propane-powered ones. Recently, the school system got a little help from the federal government for their efforts, to the tune of $1.9 million.
Fulton County Schools has received a United States Environmental Protection Agency grant to expand its fleet of propane-powered school buses. The $1.9 million awarded will help the school system replace an additional 85 diesel-powered buses with propane-powered school buses.
With this EPA grant award, about 36percent – or 272 – of the district’s large passenger buses will be powered by propane.
Fulton County Schools has a five-year plan to replace 300 diesel-powered large passenger buses by 2022 with efficient and environmentally friendly propane-powered buses.
“We are grateful to our School Board for their support and to taxpayers through the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST),” said Sam Ham, executive director of the school system’s Transportation Department. “With this EPA grant and additional incentives, we’ll eclipse our five-year goal of 300 propane buses for our fleet when we open school next August.”
Currently, FCS buses consume over 1.6 million gallons of diesel and 200,000 gallons of propane annually. By converting its fleet of school buses to propane, the district is on track to dramatically reduce its consumption of diesel fuel.
In addition to improving air quality with propane-powered buses, the school system is adding safety enhancements by putting three-point seat belts on all new school buses.
Fulton County is the first district in Georgia to offer seat belts on propane-powered buses.
“The Fulton County School System has shown its commitment to reducing the impact of diesel emissions with the early retirement of older dirtier school buses,” said EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker. “Combined with the clean school bus idle reduction policy, the school system has demonstrated a strong commitment to children’s health and the environment.”
In winning the grant, Fulton County Schools received letters of support from Steve Acenbrak, director of Transportation for the City of Roswell; Deana Ingraham, mayor of the city of East Point; and Warren Hutmacher, city manager for the city of Johns Creek.
As part of the grant award, the transportation department also will partner with multiple organizations to reduce diesel emissions, including Blue Bird, AmeriGas, and the North Fulton Comprehensive Transportation Plan.