MONCTON (GNB) – Sixteen propane-powered school buses have been purchased to serve students in the Greater Moncton area as part of a pilot project to reduce emissions and costs.

“In the classroom, students are learning about how important it is to protect our environment,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “With this pilot project, we are demonstrating to New Brunswickers how we can use innovative tools to help reduce greenhouse gases while producing savings.”

In addition to a decrease in overall emissions, an annual reduction of two tonnes of carbon dioxide per bus is anticipated, compared to the emissions produced by a similar diesel bus. The range of the buses is greater than that of electric buses, making them viable long-term options for longer or rural routes.

The propane buses will be in use this fall. Although the initial cost of a propane bus is more than that of a diesel bus, the annual operational costs per bus are expected to be $2,500 lower, resulting in $30,000 in expenditure reductions over the 12-year lifespan of each vehicle. The propane buses can be identified by a decal on the side.

“The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure continues to seek ways to be more efficient and reduce our carbon footprint. This includes the management of the government’s vehicle fleet,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Oliver. “We are pleased to be moving forward with this pilot project which promotes the use of a cleaner fuel.”

The department estimates that the total cost of fuel for the year will be roughly 10 per cent lower for propane buses compared to diesel buses. There is also the potential to reduce motor oil usage and associated costs by up to 50 per cent.

Another 74 gasoline-powered buses have been purchased as part of the pilot project and will be used across the province. This $7.4-million purchase is expected to offset the slightly higher initial purchase price of the propane buses while still providing annual maintenance savings of $500 per bus and emitting less greenhouse gases than traditional diesel buses.

The propane and gasoline models meet all safety standards. The buses were purchased as part of the annual bus fleet life cycle management process.

The pilot project aligns with and supports New Brunswick’s Climate Change Action Plan. The plan identifies 118 action items to help the province reduce emissions and improve its resilience to the changing climate. It puts greater emphasis on renewable energy, following a co-ordinated approach to energy efficiency in homes, schools and businesses.