Transit agency in Midwestern U.S. switch fleet to Autogas

As Dial-a-Ride ridership continues to grow alongside Lake County’s aging population, Laketran is aggressively trying to find ways to make the service more efficient. One of those strategies is transitioning the 85 bus Dial-a-Ride fleet from diesel fuel to Autogas. Dial-a-Ride is Laketran’s door-to-door, shared-ride service primarily used by seniors and people with disabilities, but is open to the general public.

“Tightening standards for emissions and shrinking budgets have been driving the transportation industry toward alternative fuels now more than ever before and so LPG is one of our solutions,” said Laketran General Manager Ben Capelle. “By operating Autogas buses we are reducing our fuel expenses by 35% and saving on maintenance expenses.”

Laketran Board of Trustees already approved the purchase of 11 replacement vehicles powered by Autogas, including six additional VT3 model buses. “We are replacing 8 year old vehicles with 200,000 – 250,000 miles on them,” added Capelle. “There is significant maintenance savings when you can operate newer vehicles so we are continuously looking for capital funding for replacement vehicles.”

Piecing together federal grants that can fund up to 80% of vehicle purchases, Laketran is relying on Federal Transportation Administration’s Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities programme that provides capital grants for transit agencies to meet the needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grants that provide federal funding for state wide transportation projects in urban areas of Ohio that need to improve congestion and air quality.

“By end of 2018, we should have 35% of our Dial-a-Ride fleet transitioned to Autogas with 30 Autogas buses on the road. Our original goal was to transition the fleet in five years, but at this replacement pace we may see the cost savings even sooner,” explained Laketran board president Brian Falkowski. “If we can find a way to operate more efficiently and environmentally friendly, we’re going to push to do that as soon as possible.”

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31 January 2018