W.F. McCoy Bus Company in Bridgehampton will add two propane-fueled school buses to its fleet by the end of February, said owner Albert McCoy. The bus company is currently contracted by the East Hampton School District to bring students from Montauk and Wainscott to East Hampton High School, in addition to serving Sagaponack and Bridgehampton schools.
Propane-fueled buses offer an environmentally friendly, more reliable and less expensive alternative to diesel-fueled buses, said Peter Hayes, a salesman for Blue Bird, the company that McCoy purchased the buses from.
“Liquid propane burns cleaner and safer because of the actual fuel system in these buses,” Mr. Hayes said. “The tanks that the propane is stored in, they’re made of steel and they’re 20 times stronger than a standard diesel gas tank.”
Propane emits very few toxins, unlike diesel, and the buses come with built-in pressure checks, monitoring any kind of pressure increase or decrease, Mr. Hayes said. Additionally, if a school bus were to leak diesel fuel into the road, a pool would form and a hazardous materials team would be required to do a cleanup. With propane, Mr. Hayes added, the liquid would dissipate.
McCoy’s purchase follows in the footsteps of the Riverhead School District, which was the local pioneer of propane-fueled school buses, said Mr. McCoy, who said he had a lengthy conversation with Riverhead’s head mechanic before buying the buses.
“Riverhead basically purchased two Blue Bird propane busses and two diesel buses and ran them on similar routes, similar mileage per day, and did a side-by-side comparison,” Mr. Hayes said. “They saw a huge difference in how easy it was to maintain the propane ones, and the facts really spoke for themselves.” Riverhead now has 19 propane-fueled buses.
The Springs School District, which has two propane-fueled buses and is budgeting for a third next year, was yet another form of encouragement when making the purchase, Mr. McCoy said.
“When you’re a small company you don’t want to be on a learning curve,” he said.
Propane-fueled buses are also much easier to start in the cold weather—a factor particularly important in winters like this one, said Springs School treasurer Thomas Primiano.
While the buses’ mechanics are getting a face-lift, the iconic chrome yellow exterior is here to stay.
“They’ll look exactly the same,” said Mr. McCoy. “The only difference will be a green stripe on the side to show they’re eco-friendly.”
Mr. McCoy said he anticipates the buses will be ready for service as of March 1.