Tag Archives: School Bus Companies

10 Important Benefits of Propane Based School Buses

Propane is more widely available and is cheaper than both gasoline and diesel which makes it a preferred fuel for running school buses. Generically known as liquefied petroleum gas, propane is available even in rural areas.

The number of school districts that are using propane for their school bus fleets is on the rise. Propane-based school bus sale has increased by around 500% since the year 1912. As of last year, there are about 13000 propane-based school buses that ferry close to 800000 students to and from schools every day.

This naturally leads to the inference that school buses that use propane are seeing more advantages as compared to others. This article attempts to list 10 of the most obvious and important advantages as to why school bus fleets want to power their buses with this gas.

Here follows the 10 important advantages of propane based school buses which you must know.

1: Financial gains

The primary reason why many schools choose propane is for financial gains. The price of propane is low as compared to traditional gasoline or diesel and also reduces the operating costs. The school buses were able to save to the extent of $3000 per bus if it starts running on propane. The range of savings, however, depends on the price of the fuel.

Right away propane is costing just half as much as diesel from the pump station. In a majority of cases, the school sins a contract with the propane retailer for the fuel consumption of the entire fleet of buses and this makes the cost of propane even lower.

2: Lowered maintenance costs

With propane based school buses, it is possible to save maintenance cost This can be possible in several areas, one being less-frequent changes of the engine oil.

An oil change for propane takes up only 7 quarts of oil. However, for a diesel engine, the oil change requires about 17-36 quarts of oil.  The next reason is the installation of less complicated emission control systems which do not use the diesel exhaust fluid. The fuel burns in a clean manner and there is no requirement for add-on filters usually used by diesel engine systems.

3: Propane is a proven fuel alternative

Propane has been used in vehicles ever since the 1970s which makes the technology almost five decades old and proven. Many school districts started using propane from as early as the 1980s.

4: Quick returns on the investments are possible with propane

School districts that had purchased propane-based school bus fleets got back their initial investment in just about an 18- to 24-month period. This was because of reduced fuel expenditure and lowered maintenance costs.

Typically, the cost of propane has a value that is midway between the price of natural gas and oil. Schools also do well by negotiating a fixed propane price for the entire year with the local retailer.

5: Propane is a non-toxic fuel and is non-spillable too

Propane has lots of good characteristics:

•    It does not contaminate the soil, air or water
•    It is not made up of harmful chemicals like diesel and gasoline
•    Propane is usually used in a closed-loop system as a result of which it does not spill
•    There are no major clean-up concerns for this fuel

6: The refuelling infrastructure is spread out and big enough

Many of the districts have multiple points from where the school bus fleet can refuel. Each fleet can have their own refuelling strategy. The individual buses from a fleet can be part of a refuelling network.

These networks can be used by those bus fleets that do not have a refuelling facility and infrastructure in their premises. Most of the refuelling stations function 24/7 for the convenience of the bus fleets.

7: The propane refuelling infrastructure is easy to create

For bus fleets of big sizes, it is worthwhile to consider installation of a propane refuelling facility if there is sufficient space in their premises. The infrastructure is affordable and is cheaper than installing stations for dispensing petrol or diesel.

If the refuelling station is outside the premises, a centralized location would be the best as it serves to reduce downtime of the buses. It is also a matter of convenience. Such refuelling centres can be up-scaled when the sizes of the fleets increase.

8: Propane engines operate in a cleaner fashion

As propane engines operate in a cleaner manner than diesel engines. This means that school running propane-based buses set do not have to buy an extra set of about 20 ancillary parts that are required to clean the unwanted emissions of diesel engines.

Without these parts, diesel engines would fail to meet environmental protection standards as far as emissions are concerned.

Propane-based buses emit fewer oxides of nitrogen and almost no particulate matter as compared to diesel.

9: Propane buses have no cold-start problems

Propane buses do not have cold-start issues with the result that the school saves a lot of time as well as money.

10: Drivers love propane-based buses

Drivers love propane based buses for the fact that they operate in a much quieter fashion, they accelerate quickly and are easier to handle, unlike diesel buses.

They do not have the exhaust fumes of diesel engines either. They are quick to start even in the dead of winter. Propane buses do not have to ’idle’ before it starts to move. At the end of it all, they are easier to clean and maintain.


A major cost for most schools is the transportation system. The rising fuel costs coupled with the fact that diesel engine mechanics are rare breed these days, most of the schools are settling for buses that use alternative fuels like propane instead of conventional fuels like diesel and gasoline.

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Top 9 School Bus Companies You Need to Know [Infographic]

School busses are by far the safest way to transport children to and from school every day. Riding a school bus to school in the mornings and the afternoons has been a tradition for many years now. It has always been a concern for parents on the first day their put their child on the bus because they worry about whether or not they will be afraid or if their safety should be a concern.

Usually after the first couple of weeks it becomes routine and most parents never give it much thought after that.

Throughout the years, there was vast improvement in the design and features of a school bus, and the credit goes to select school bus companies. Earlier we have posted a blog based on the top school bus manufacturers. Here we features 9 school bus companies which made a name for themselves, shown in the form of an infographic.

Top 9 School Bus Companies_infographic

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Top 10 School Bus Companies

Throughout the years, the task of making the best buses for school transportation has been handled by various companies. This article features 10 school bus companies which made a name for themselves, when it came to redefining the way we look at a school bus.


1. Wayne Corporation

Topping our list of companies is Wayne Corporation. Though the company declared itself bankrupt and discontinued operation in 1992, the Wayne Corporation had played a vital role in the development of safe buses for school children. They were the first and foremost to introduce the concept of school buses for schools.

Their innovation predates the famous yellow coloured buses which are widely used these days. They introduced the horse drawn carts, including kid hacks, which later evolved into automobiles which used full metal body chassis.

Wayne Corporation introduced guard rails on the sides of all school buses, inboard wheelchair lifts, and even high-headroom doors. They were the first with a school bus based upon a cutaway van chassis, the Wayne Busette. This chassis design is still one of the most popular in North American markets even after more than 35 years.

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2. Blue Bird

An all time giant, the Blue Bird Corporation (formerly called Blue Bird Body Company) is clearly one of the top school bus manufacturing companies even today.Blue Bird's corporate headquarters and main manufacturing facilities are in Georgia.

It was in 1937 that the company began production of full-steel bus bodies. This innovation would soon replace the wooden bodies which were commonly used in the United States. The yellow colour for school buses was proposed by a Blue Bird engineer in a 1939 conference and is still in use today.

3. Gillig Corporation

What began as a carriage and wagon shop in 1890 in San Francisco, California soon became a pioneer in school bus designs. In 1920, Gillig Corporation which was then called Gillig Bros. created and patented the "California Top" roof design which most of the buses use even today.

From manufacturing automobile, hearse, truck, and bus bodies, Gillig Corporation went on to become almost entirely dedicated to the production of school buses by 1957. They were also instrumental in designing the diesel-powered rear-engine transit style school bus. Gillig produced the 855-D with a passenger capacity of 97 which were the highest-capacity school bus to be ever produced.

4. Ward body Works

The company was established in 1933 in Conway, Arkansas and was well known for manufacturing bus body parts. In the 1960s, Ward School Bus Manufacturing, Inc, a subsidiary of Ward Body Works used various updates that modernized manufacturing and production.

During the 1970s, Ward became one of the largest school bus body manufacturers in the United States. They had a 25% market share in 1973. Just like most school bus manufacturing companies, the glory days of the Ward body works came to an end in the 1970s and the company filed for bankruptcy in July, 1980. An investment group assisted by the then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton were involved in purchasing the assets of Ward Industries. In 1981, Ward was officially renamed AmTran.

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5. AmTran

A successor to Ward Body Works, the AmTran or American Transport Corporation headquarters and manufacturing facilities were also located in Conway, Arkansas. In 1987, AmTran introduced an extra rub rail right below the window line.

They specialized in manufacturing of type A, C and D buses. In 1999, AmTran made plans for a new facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The company was re-branded as International, then IC in 2003 after being purchased by Navistar International in 1995.

6. IC Buses

IC specializes in school buses, shuttle buses, multi-function school activity buses (MFSABs), and commercial transit buses derived from their school bus designs. IC or Integrated Coach is the name given because the bus body, engine, chassis and are all produced within a single corporate structure.

Initially the name was IC which was later changed to IC buses in 2009. The year 2010 was marked by the launch of IC’s largest bus and also introduced its smallest one. IC buses are one of the modern giantsand have turned their attention to manufacturing rear-engine transit-style buses since January 2011.

7. Thomas Built Buses    

Thomas Built Buses, Inc commonly called Thomasis an American bus manufacturer operating in High point, North Carolina. In 1936, Thomas stopped the production of its streetcars which were a trend back then and opened a new frontier in school bus manufacturing.

By the 1970s, Thomas Car Works was one of the most dominant manufacturers of school buses in North America and in 1972 the company adopted its current name Thomas Built Buses. Thomas was the first to design and manufacture its own school bus chassis for both its front and rear-engine models before any of its competition.

As the economic turmoil hit America, the company began to downscale manufacturing. In 1980, a smaller school bus on a cutaway van chassis was designed. This went on to become a popular model and is still in production.

By the end of the 20th century Thomas was one of the only three principal builders of large school buses in the United States.

Watch our Youtube video on State of the Art School Bus Safety by TrackSchoolBus

8. Carpenter Body Company

Though the company was founded in Mitchell, Indiana in 1919, they produced their first bus in 1923.Produced Type A, B, C, and D buses. The Company initially was known to build hauling wagons for two cement factories and gradually began building "kid hacks" that were horse drawn, with wooden benches to carry children to school.

Carpenter's first true school bus was built wholly of wood and later on combinations of steel and wood replaced this all-wood construction. In 1935, a change was made and all-steel bodied buses were made.

Carpenter's conventional-style school bus (the Classic) underwent body revisions in 1984 and 1986. Carpenter Body Company was one of the big 6 in the school bus manufacturing industry. But like the rest of the companies, economic meltdown affected them badly and in May 2001, Carpenter was shut down by Spartan Motors, its parent company.

9. Collins Industries

Located in Hutchinson, Kansas, the company specializes in manufacturing of Type A school buses, along with ambulances and other special-purpose vehicles. The company was founded in 1971 and by 1998 it comprised of four subsidiaries: Collins Bus Corporation, Capacity of Texas Inc, World Trans Inc. and Wheeled Coach Industries Inc.

Collins went on to purchase Mid Bus in 1998 and the assets of Canada-based manufacturer Corbeil Bus Corporation in 2007. The company has about 900 employees across three manufacturing facilities.

Collins Industries was later purchased by American Industrial Partners. In 2010, AIP combined Collins with Fleetwood Enterprises, Halcore Group, and E-One to form Allied Specialty Vehicles.

10. Wayne Wheeled Vehicles 

It is a trade name given to a division of vehicle manufacturers who specializes primarily in production of school bus. In late 1992, Harsco Corporation purchased the rights to use the Wayne brand name, product rights, as well as parts and tooling during the liquidation of assets of the Wayne Corporation that took place in late 1992.

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The BMY Division of Harsco operated WWV (Wayne Wheeled Vehicles) from an assembly facility at Marysville, Ohio, where military trucks were also assembled. School bus production began there in 1993 and ended in early 1995. The economic meltdown led to the close of entire operations and the property was vacated.

Do you think we have missed out on any important names? If so, please leave it in the comment section.

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