Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type



Earth and Ocean Sciences

Director of Thesis

April Hiscox

Second Reader

Ben Kessler


The current University of South Carolina shuttle fleet is made up of eleven (11) light duty shuttles and thirteen (13) heavy duty school buses, all of which rely on gasoline and diesel fuel sources. This study intends to assess the environmental, health, and economic tradeoffs of switching part of the existing University shuttle fleet to an alternative fuel source: compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane (LPG). This study also includes detailed, fleet specific idling-cost calculations to encourage the adoption of recommended anti-idling strategies. Following an exhaustive analysis of the available literature that addresses the feasibility of a partial CNG or propane fuel transition for the UofSC bus fleet, pragmatic and technical research approaches were employed to dissect the issue at hand. Using data points from a Simple Payback analysis and On-Road Fleet Footprint analysis, both derived from the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET), this research assessed the costs and benefits of switching six (6) of the University’s conventional school buses to a CNG or propane fuel source. The study finds that a partial switch to either alternative fuel source, CNG or propane, is environmentally and economically feasible if a form of federal or state funding assistance is available. The experiences of nine universities who have already made switches to the aforementioned alternative fuel sources are included to assuage alternative fuel school bus acquisition fears, and to provide rough transition templates by which UofSC could abide. AFLEET is employed once more to run an Idle Reduction assessment using the current, 2019 University fleet data. Outputs show the annual costs and externality costs of idling for the light- and heavy-duty portions of the current fleet and reveal the environmental impacts of idling as well. As a result, Department of Energy supported recommendations to curb idling-practices are presented in an effort to encourage community driven anti-idling campaigns.

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