Photo: BATA

Photo: BATA

Traverse City, Mich.'s Bay Area Transportation Authority added five propane fueled vehicles to its fleet. BATA’s new propane powered buses have multiple benefits that will help make its vehicle fleet more environmentally friendly and save on fuel and maintenance costs in the long run, according to the agency.

“We are excited to add these new propane powered buses to our fleet to reduce BATA’s carbon footprint and help us provide safe, cost effective, reliable, and green transportation to the people of Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties,” said BATA Executive Director Kelly Dunham.

Propane provides a 24% reduction in greenhouse gas, a 20% reduction in nitrogen oxide, and a 60% reduction in carbon monoxide when compared to gasoline emissions, according to Roush CleanTech, the provider of the buses. Propane is also a domestic and abundant fuel source, reducing foreign oil dependency. Pricing can be locked in to better manage costs and budget fuel expenses more accurately, and propane provides less wear and tear on engines and transmissions when compared to gas and diesel buses, according to the company.

A drawback to using propane fuel is that it offers lower fuel efficiency — 2 to 4 mpg less compared to gasoline and diesel engines — but the maintenance savings and fuel cost savings will offset the loss in miles per gallon, according to BATA.

“Between rebates and lower maintenance costs we expect to see an overall cost savings of about 54%,” said Kurt Braun, BATA facilities and fleet maintenance manager. “Propane fuel buses are a tested and proven technology and a number of transit agencies in Michigan and around the country have added propane vehicles to their fleets and we plan to add more propane vehicles in the near future.”

All five buses are already on the road and will be used across all of BATA’s routes and services. Each bus will be designated with a special “Propane Powered” decal. They have been outfitted with LED lighting, back-up sensors, bike racks, and BATA’s on-board technologies such as electronic fareboxes and mobile data terminals that improve the rider and driver experience.

Funding for these buses was provided as part of BATA’s fiscal year 2016 funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation. They were produced by Roush CleanTech.

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