Monday, April 8, 2013
Little Elm ISD will switch to eco-friendlier propane-operated school buses
Somewhere, Hank Hill is smiling.
LITTLE ELM The air in Little Elm may seem a little clearer next school year.
The Little Elm Independent School District board of school trustees recently approved an agreement with GoldStar Transit as its student transportation carrier for the 2013-2014 school year, which includes a lease-purchase agreement for the ownership of 45 propane-operated school buses.
“This will really step up our operation,” said Linda Engle, LEISD executive director of business operations, in a statement. “We believe our service to students will improve, and our fleet will become more eco-friendly at the same time.”
The district chose GoldStar Transit out of four companies, including the current contractor Durham School Services, which serves 450 school districts. Durham has provided student transportation for the district at $3.44 per mile for a regular route.
The contract with GoldStar Transit will provide transportation on a day-to-day operation at a cheaper rate of $2.55 per mile. GoldStar Transit serves 160 school districts.
“It resulted in quite a significant savings to the district,” Zwahr said.
The review of the transportation contract is part of the district’s annual review of large contracts. Zwahr said the business office reviews large contracts, but the transportation contract hadn’t been reviewed for several years.
Not only do the buses the district will be acquiring through GoldStar run on propane, but each has air conditioning and GPS tracking. According to GoldStar Transit’s website, each bus is equipped with an automatic crossing arm that extends from the front bumper to ensure the safety of children during loading and unloading of students. Also stipulated in the contract with LEISD is that the buses must be less than 12 years old.
“We think that by switching to buses that use propane will result in savings to the district,” Zwahr said. “But that will have to play out as we get into the contract with GoldStar.”
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, alternative-fuel buses are typically more expensive to buy but can cost less to run and maintain and limits students’ exposure to diesel exhaust. On average, the district’s buses travel 470,000 miles per year.
“[Primarily] it’s the savings and that it’s the smarter use of the school’s funds, the taxpayer’s funds and the environment,” Zwahr said.
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