Officials from Lake County, Ohio’s Laketran commemorated a new 30,000 gallon propane fueling station and propane autogas-fueled public transit buses, which will be used for the agency’s Dial-a-Ride door-to-door, demand-response service.
Laketran will be saving green and going green — the $1.6 million infrastructure investment will bring long term environmental and economic benefit to both Laketran and Lake County, according to the agency’s estimates.
“Tightening standards for emissions and shrinking budgets have been driving the transportation industry toward alternative fuels now more than ever before,” explained Ben Capelle, Laketran’s deputy GM. “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.”
The three-phase capital project included engineering, construction of the fueling station, and installation of indoor propane detectors for safety inside Laketran’s 122,000 square foot vehicle storage and maintenance area.
Mentor-based CT Consultants led the engineering effort and the construction of the fueling station was completed by Superior Energy Systems based in Columbia Station, Ohio.
Laketran would not be able to make this transition or maintain its Dial-a-Ride fleet without the support of federal funding. A $416,000 federal investment from the FTA’s Bus and Bus Facilities grant and a $754,000 Congestion Mitigation Air Quality federal grant funds paid for 80% of the cost of the fueling station and vehicles. Laketran provided a local 20% match funded by the agency’s 0.25% local sales tax revenue.
While the agency expects to reduce air pollutants, the low cost and stability of propane fuel helps manage costs during a time when the demand of service continues to grow.
Laketran’s Dial-a-Ride ridership has increased 14% over the last three years and has no sign of slowing down. To date, the 2017 Dial-a-Ride ridership is up 3% over 2016 ridership.
The new fleet is made up of Turtle Top’s VT3 and Terra Transit buses that seat either eight or 10 passengers and can accommodate up to three wheelchairs. The entire fleet is ADA accessible and each bus is equipped with a wheelchair lift, fold-up seats to accommodate wheelchairs, slip-resistant flooring, an electronic transit door, and a central heating and cooling unit in response to customer concerns about vehicles being too hot or too cold. To assist with operations each bus as an automatic vehicle locator systems and electronic fareboxes installed along with additional safety amenities include retractable seat belts, clearance lights, and safety cameras.