CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The wheels on the bus go round and round thanks to an eco-friendly fuel. Two-thirds of the state’s school buses are now using bio-diesel. It’s made up of diesel and either vegetable oil or animal-based fats.
Ben Shew, the Executive Director of the Transportation Office for the state Department of Education, said school systems have been using the green fuel for several years.
“It has grown in its popularity to presently 42 of the 55 counties, 3,000 school buses out of 4,000 buses that we have,” according to Shew.
“Green fuel generally is not there to save money. What it does is improves the environment.”
It also improves student safety. That’s because fumes from regular diesel can add up. With buses so close to school doors and windows, fumes can seep into classrooms. Shew said it’s not a concern with biodiesel.
However, a change to an even greener fuel is fast approaching.
“We’ve been working with the [Governor's Task Force on Natural Gas Vehicles] and are looking to promote propane in school buses in the next few years,” said Shew.
The engines for those buses cost a little bit more but Shew stressed with buses now lasting 12 to 15 years, the school systems will recover that money quickly.
“[Propane] will provide a reduction in the cost of fuel somewhere in the neighborhood or 40 to 50-percent,” said Shew.
While many students have no idea they’re riding in mean, green school bus machines, Shew says educators, parents and environmentalists do and they appreciate the clean-fuel movement.