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A Safer, Quieter School Bus—Why Propane Could Be the Answer

school walking

We live four blocks from my son’s elementary school, so I’m happy to say that we get to walk to the drop-off line together every morning. It’s become our own relaxing little ritual, and a calming way to start our day. Of course, when my big boy first learned that he wouldn’t be taking the long yellow bus, he was disappointed. As a new Kindergartener, this was a rite of passage he didn’t want to be denied.

I can’t say that I felt the same way... I have some not-so-fond memories of riding the bus as a kid. That horrendous diesel exhaust smell resulted in regular, recurring headaches and the overall volume level was anything but peaceful.

school bus

Worst of all, though, I remember the bullying. There was an overweight girl on our bus, and she was teased endlessly, mercilessly—it was awful. Unfortunately, the bus driver wasn’t able to help. How could she? It had to have been impossible for her to hear anything happening in the rear of that big roaring vehicle.

These are just a few of the reasons why propane-fueled school buses are a better alternative, on the rise. Today, there are nearly 13,000 propane school buses in operation—serving 800,000 students in 750 districts, nationwide. School districts in 47 states use propane buses—so it’s certainly a trend that’s on the uptick, but we do have a ways to go to make this the norm.

school buses

Truth is: Despite those aforementioned headaches, the noise, and the bullying, I never would have given the issue a second thought—diesel vs. propane. Potatoes, pot-ah-toes, right? But now that I’ve been educated on the topic, it’s something I want to push for in my own district.

The Top 3 Benefits of Propane School Buses

  1. Propane school buses are, not only, more efficient they’re also more economical. That means they can help districts save money over time that can be put back into the classroom to be used for academic purposes. (As a bonus, the Propane Education & Research Council has, once again, teamed up with to donate funds to teachers, in recognition of their district’s adoption of propane buses.)
  2. A reduction in harmful emissions, like diesel exhaust—results in a safer, healthier ride for everyone.
  3. A quieter propane bus means a calmer and safer ride. Propane school buses are significantly quieter than diesel buses, allowing drivers to focus more on the road and happenings both inside and outside the bus. With less distraction all around, drivers can also more easily identify and prevent bullying on buses.

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These are just three reasons why public figure, mom to two, morning talk-show correspondent, and former teacher, Jenna Bush Hager is so emphatic in her support and work for PERC.

Earlier this month, I joined Hager at an intimate brunch in New York City to learn more about her role for the organization and her passion for the cause.

jenna hager on bus

She shared her personal experiences, both from the perspective of a kid and an educator, and she brought up an additional point that hadn’t been previously presented. A quieter bus also means a "calmer arrival." As a teacher, she knows that children can benefit tremendously from a little less chaos and a little more zen in the morning—to catch up with a friend, to finish homework, to just enjoy a moment of peace before the busy go-go-go of the school day commences.

"The school day begins and ends on the bus for many children,” Hager said. “When we give our kids a safe, quiet and healthy start to the day, it can improve their entire experience in the classroom and at home, too.”

This really resonated with me—it circles back to those early AM walks to school with my little guy. I get to see him off with a content and eager smile on his sweet face. No bullying, no headache, no frenetic energy... Just a calm moment between the two of us. It’s something that all kids deserve—whether they car pool, walk, or take the bus every day. Who knew that propane could by the simple solution.


If you want to inquire about school bus safety propane-fueled buses in your community, visit

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