SAN ANTONIO – Going back to school means new supplies, new teachers, and for the San Antonio Independent School District, it means new high-tech propane buses.
“We call our program the clean, green, yellow school bus machine, a fun program for the kids,” said Nathan Graf, the director of transportation for SAISD.
The district is now operating 40 to 45 new buses.
“They're environmentally friendly. They emit fewer toxins than a typical diesel bus emits, so that’s safer for our kids, particularly for our kids who have asthma. It's a cleaner ride,” Graf said.
The buses are also economically more effective, meaning they save the district money. The typical buses use diesel gas, which costs about $2 per gallon, while propane costs about 90 cents per gallon.
The buses are quieter and there are some big upgrades. Every new bus has three-point seatbelts, Wi-Fi and also new this year is Z-Pass, which is a way for parents to keep track of their children.
“It'll send an alert to the parent, an email alert or a text message, letting them know when (their child) get(s) on or off the school bus,” Graf said.
For parents who don’t want an email or text, there is an alternative.
“There will be an actual app that the parent can download on their phone, and so that way, when a school is late, a parent can go on that app and see if the bus is five, 10 minutes away,” Graf said.
The new fleet and new tech is thanks to years of hard work.
"It started from a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency about two years ago. It was almost $300,000 (and SAISD) was one of two districts in Texas that received it and one of 25 in the nation that received the grant from the EPA,” Graf said.