Regina Catholic says it's saving about $500K, using cleaner fuel in new bus contract

Regina Catholic School Division says it is saving around half a million dollars overall and it is using fewer and more environmentally friendly school buses.

Regina Catholic students to ride in propane-fueled buses

Regina Catholic School Division students will ride to school on these propane-fuelled buses this fall. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

Students headed to Regina Catholic Schools will be riding on propane-fuelled buses this fall. 

Regina Catholic did not renew its contract with First Student Canada in July, and instead will have its students travel with LP3 Transportation Solutions. 

Its fleet of 89 buses will be fuelled by propane rather than diesel gas. The company that owns the new buses says they are quieter, produce 80 per cent fewer emissions, are more reliable, and warm up more quickly than diesel buses.

Faith and savings factored in decision

The school division's director of education, Domenic Scuglia, said there were two main factors in the decision to go with propane buses. 

"Certainly the bus contract and partnership that we've agreed to here is going to offer us a cost-saving," he said. "The second thing for us as a division comes from our faith. And we're always looking for ways to be environmental stewards."

A representative from the transportation company said the propane bus cost around $5,000 each more than a diesel bus.

The division's transportation officer said despite a rate increase, the division has been able to find around $500,000 in savings through a new routing system that allowed them to make their trips more efficient and use 17 fewer buses overall.

She also said the maintenance costs for the new buses are lower than for diesel buses by around $200 for each regular maintenance session. 

Propane-fuelled fleet a first

"From what I understand, across Canada, [Regina Catholic is] one of the first, if not the first school divisions to go 100 per cent with propane on their student transportation, so it's a big deal," said David White, the vice-president of operations for Saskatoon-based LP3 Transportation Solutions. 

White says the buses don't behave differently from diesel-fuelled buses in a crash, and he is confident that the way the propane is dispensed and stored in the bus is safe. He says the technology has come a long way and hasn't been a problem. 

The same company runs propane buses in a few other divisions including in Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Estevan and Prince Albert. White says this contract quadruples the total number of propane-fuelled school buses on Saskatchewan roads.