For years, natural gas has proven itself as the alternative fuel option for leading school districts across the nation. As your school district evaluates either a transition to natural gas vehicles or maybe an upgrade to renewable natural gas – below are answers to the most common questions we face.
Do natural gas buses cost more?
Yes, but maybe not. It’s no secret – alternative fuel vehicles are typically more expensive than their diesel counterparts. In the case of buses, the average incremental cost is about $30,000 per bus. You may be wondering… how can districts afford the switch? Simple – government funding. Across the nation there are federal and local grant programs in place with the intent of offsetting incremental costs associated with clean vehicle alternatives. Funding available through these programs has increased over the past few years. This is thanks to more states opting for clean air programs and also the Volkswagen Settlement. To see the most recent list of funding programs – click here.
On the fuel side, economics strongly support the use of natural gas, especially thanks to the emergence of renewable natural gas (RNG). Fleets that have been successfully using compressed natural gas in the past, are able to transition to renewable natural gas and realize additional cost savings without any modifications to their vehicles, stations or performance. How? Financial credits for simply using renewable natural gas as an alternative fuel are available through both federal and in some states, local programs. Fleets that were already saving fuel spend with compressed natural gas, can save even further when they transition to renewable natural gas.
Another cost benefit tied typically to school districts using natural gas vehicles is that of fueling time. Buses no longer need to wait in line at busy fueling stations, or even at their own private station. Through utilization of time-fill natural gas fueling stations, buses can “plug in” after a shift and refuel overnight (or whenever not in use). Time-fill applications make refueling easier, and less expensive.
How does natural gas bus performance compare to diesel?
Buses need to perform – no question about it. Routes are optimized to ensure timely pick-up/drop-off for students. Downtime isn’t an option. Thankfully, natural gas vehicle technology has proven itself within the bus market. Drivers will appreciate power and range similar to diesel vehicles. This is incredibly important as fleets weigh out alternative vehicle technologies – electric buses are attractive for some, but at this point feature battery ranges far less than natural gas or diesel buses. Although incentives may be in place to offset the high cost of EV buses and therefore grab the attention of many, districts need to consider the entire vehicle experience, as they may end up needing more buses to accomplish the same task.
Natural gas works for school districts and for those able to use renewable natural gas, the economic benefit gets even better. And of course, we can’t blog without highlighting the incredible air quality benefits natural gas will provide to your students. Diesel exhaust should be a thing of the past – with clean air the new norm. Renewable natural gas can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions up to 125%, improving quality of air for children in your district and across the nation.
Lastly, below are a few other resources that can aid in your decision:
Interested in learning how your district can start saving, both financially and environmentally, through use of natural gas buses? Or perhaps you’re interested in renewable natural gas for your district’s fueling station. Reach out today – we’d be honored to answer any questions you have.