Laketran, the regional public transportation system in Lake County, Ohio, celebrated the completion of a new propane autogas fueling station, installed to support a propane bus fleet that could grow to 85 vehicles by the end of 2018, according to company officials.
The total investment in infrastructure at Laketran, which is based about 25 miles east of Cleveland, was about $1.6 million, the company says. Laketran’s three-phase capital project included engineering, the construction of a fueling station, and the installation of indoor propane detectors for safety inside Laketran’s 122,000-sq.-ft. vehicle storage and maintenance area.
“Tightening standards for emissions and shrinking budgets have been driving the transportation industry toward alternative fuels now more than ever before,” says Ben Capelle, Laketran’s deputy general manager. “Laketran is always looking for more efficient ways to operate and reduce cost. Right now it costs about $64 a day per vehicle to fuel a Dial-a-Ride bus on diesel. We will reduce the cost to about $40 a day per vehicle running on propane.”
Laketran’s new Dial-a-Ride fleet is made up of VT3 and Terra Transit buses that seat eight or 10 passengers. Superior Energy Systems completed the construction of the on-site fueling station for Laketran.
“There’s a 30,000-gallon tank and two dispensers – one’s a single hose, one’s a double hose,” says Derek Rimko, vice president of operations at Superior Energy Systems. “They can fill two buses off the one dispenser, or a single off of there.”
Laketran expects to recover the initial infrastructure costs in about four-and-a-half years. Alliance AutoGas partnered with Laketran as its fuel provider, and Icom North America partnered with the company as a provider of the buses’ propane liquid injection system.
“We’re excited about bringing another win to the propane industry,” says Rodney Johnson, business development manager at Alliance AutoGas in Columbia Station, Ohio. “They’re expected to do somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000 gallons per year, so it’s a great opportunity for propane to shine once again.”
According to Laketran, it couldn’t have made the transition to propane or maintain its Dial-a-Ride fleet without the support of federal funding. A $416,000 investment from the Federal Transit Administration’s Buses and Bus Facilities grant and a $754,000 Congestion Mitigation Air Quality federal grant paid for 80 percent of the cost of the fueling station and vehicles, Laketran says. Laketran provided a local 20 percent match funded by the agency’s 0.25 percent local sales tax revenue.