The roller coaster rise and fall in fuel prices has made it challenging to budget for the cost of gas over the years. By the end of April, the Unified Government will have converted 13 buses and two pickup trucks to propane fuel; saving taxpayers of Wyandotte County at least $100 thousand in annual fuel cost. The savings represents a 74 percent reduction in cost for these converted vehicles.
"We are thrilled to be on the forefront of this emerging technology," said UG fleet manager Merle McCullough. "Our main objectives were to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, reduce our carbon footprint, and save the transit patrons from any possible increase in fares due to rising fuel costs."
Through a partnership with Ferrell Gas, the UG is able to lock in an annual savings less than half the cost of gasoline. The conversion to propane replaces more than 50,000 gallons of gasoline that's currently being used in a year's time. Ferrellgas is supplying the fuel station and dispenser and providing propane safety training for staff. The conversion costs nearly $9 thousand per vehicle, but the UG will not incur any of the capitol expense. The project is being paid through funds remaining from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (ECBG), which was awarded to the UG in 2010.
"The Unified Government has taken a leadership role in Greater Kansas City by making the progressive decision to implement propane-powered buses for transit," said transportation director at Metropolitan Energy Center, Kelly Gilbert.
In addition to the annual savings, the benefits of propane are numerous. The alternative fuel releases:
- 25 percent less nitrogen oxide
- As much as 35 percent less carbon monoxide
- Up to 20 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions
- 50 percent fewer particulate emissions, according to ICOM North America
"The conversion of the Unified Government's bus fleet from gasoline to propane is beneficial in so many ways. Major fuel cost savings, protecting the environment, and lengthening of bus life are just a few of the benefits of using propane fuel," said Emerick Cross, UG's director of transit. "It will be a win-win situation for transit riders, the Unified Government, and the citizens of our community."
Also referred to as autogas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), propane is made in the United States and is a cleaner fuel which improves the life of the engine. The UG upgraded its fleet just last year with the purchase of several new buses. According to Cross, this is an ongoing effort by the UG to reduce costs and improve operations.
"UG Transit joins other area fleets in using propane autogas, and Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition congratulates Unified Government for making this progressive move." said Gilbert, also the director of the regional Clean Cities coalition.
The conversion to propane is part of an ongoing initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's government-industry partnership Clean Cities program.
"The Unified Government is proud of the work of Merle McCullough as the project manager in this fuel conversion program. It is through his initiative and dedication that that this cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative fueling system has become a reality," said Bob Roddy, director of public works.
- Unified Government news release