First Propane Buses Unveiled in South Dakota

Two South Dakota transit agencies, People’s Transit in Huron and Prairie Hills Transit in Spearfish, have introduced their first orders of environmentally friendly and cost-effective buses powered by propane autogas.

Prairie Hills Transit, under the leadership of executive director Barbara Cline, is leading the way in public transit operations with its new propane buses and the state’s first propane fueling infrastructure. The agency will operate six propane buses, which make up 10% of its fleet.

Similarly, People’s Transit, headed by executive director Gayle Kludt, is embracing the transition to propane by operating six propane buses this year, accounting for 80% of its in-town fleet.

The buses from both agencies are equipped with advanced propane engine systems from ROUSH CleanTech. The ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-450 cutaway chassis, used in these buses, is the only propane vehicle to have completed the Federal Transit Administration’s New Model Bus Testing Program, enabling transit fleet operators to access federal funds.

By tapping into available funding streams, People’s Transit and Prairie Hills Transit are able to support the purchase of these new buses, with a primary focus on Section 5339 federal funding, as mentioned by Kludt.

In addition to the environmental benefits, such as reduced harmful emissions, the propane buses are expected to lower daily operating costs due to savings in fuel and maintenance expenses. Propane autogas is estimated to cost 40% less than gasoline and 50% less than diesel, according to ROUSH.

Moreover, the new propane buses meet stringent emissions standards, emitting 90% less nitrogen oxide compared to the EPA’s strictest guidelines. Agencies like the EPA and the California Air Resources Board monitor various emissions, and propane vehicles equipped with the ROUSH CleanTech fuel system have shown a significant reduction in all measured outputs by an average of 64%.

Overall, the introduction of these propane buses in South Dakota marks a significant step towards cleaner and more sustainable public transportation in the state.

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