District Acquires 10th Compressed Natural Gas Bus
The Portland Public Schools, a state leader in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicle technology, will take delivery of its 10th CNG school bus this month.
CNG buses now make up more than 40 percent of the Portland district’s fleet. All of the vehicles have been funded fully or in part by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection through grants from the Federal Clean School Bus Program.
The CNG buses create less pollution and they save the district money on fuel. Prices for CNG hovered around $1.21 per equivalent diesel gallon last winter after federal fuel grants were suspended. That’s a savings of about $2 per gallon.
In 2002, the Portland Public Schools responded to several scientific studies showing that emissions from diesel school buses were possibly causing harm to children riding them. First among these concerns was the effect on students with asthma and other respiratory conditions. At that time, at least 7 percent of the district’s students had active asthma.
Several efforts such as an enforced no-idling policy and retrofitting older school bus with new emissions technologies culminated with the delivery of the first three CNG school buses in January 2006. Since then, CNG vehicles have driven 412,290 miles, displacing 96,164 gallons of diesel fuel.
The program started small, and initial CNG buses were prone to mechanical issues. But newer models have shown substantial improvement. The Portland Public Schools partners with Metro for vehicle repairs and use of it CNG fueling station.