CNG offers fuel solution for business fleets

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Matt Stephens-Rich

Rising and fluctuating diesel and gasoline prices cause stress and uncertainty for fleet operation bottom lines. Fortunately, transit fleet operators may choose from several alternative fuel and vehicle technologies that can provide price stability, lower fuel costs and reduced emissions.

One forward-thinking transit fleet — the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) in Canton, Ohio — is implementing alternatives with great success. With an annual ridership of 2.7 million, SARTA operates 43 transit buses and 41 paratransit vehicles throughout its countywide territory. SARTA first became interested in transitioning to alternative fuels to reduce costs and emissions. After careful consideration, SARTA determined that compressed natural gas (CNG) presented a good opportunity for its fleet.

The Basics of Compressed Natural Gas

CNG has properties that are very similar to gasoline. With its high octane rating, CNG is an excellent fuel for spark-ignited internal combustion engines. CNG can be used in a dedicated natural gas vehicle or in combination with diesel or gasoline in a dual-fuel or bi-fuel vehicle.

Fuel Cost Savings of CNG

CNG has been found to be more cost effective than diesel and gasoline. According to the "Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report," published in October 2013, CNG costs $1.36 less than gasoline (per gallon equivalent) and $1.58 less than diesel. When considered over time, gasoline and diesel prices have shown considerable volatility while the price of CNG has remained relatively constant.

“This predictability and low pricing provides a financial advantage for fleets that rely on CNG for vehicle operations,” said Andrew Conley of Clean Fuels Ohio, a regional Clean Cities coalition that works with fleets to implement alternative fuels.

SARTA’s CNG Success

During the past few years, SARTA has demonstrated regional leadership in deploying alternative fuels and fuel-efficient technologies. In addition to transitioning nine of its transit buses and 13 of its paratransit vehicles to CNG, SARTA added four hybrid-electric buses to its fleet and started using B10, a biodiesel blend consisting of 10% biodiesel and 90% petroleum diesel.

In 2012, SARTA opened a public-access CNG station — currently Frito-Lay, Kimble Refuse and Home City Ice are among the regional natural gas-powered fleets that fuel at the station.

“Everyone wins by using natural gas to operate vehicles,” said SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad. “CNG-powered vehicles run for a fraction of the cost of traditional diesel vehicles, and the fuel comes from domestic sources.”

By working with Clean Fuels Ohio, SARTA was able to receive assistance and secure grant funding for vehicles and infrastructure. This helped reduce SARTA’s initial capital costs and enabled the transit agency to realize a quicker return on investment. As a result, SARTA deployed more alternative fuel vehicles in a shorter amount of time, saving money and improving the environmental performance of its fleet.

These vehicles were made possible thanks to funding from an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities initiative.

To view a video on SARTA's experience, click here.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (1 Comment)

More Green Views Blog Posts

December 30, 2019

Electrifying transportation: A holistic approach

Clean the grid, electrify transportation, reduce miles-traveled, and ensure access for all.

April 22, 2019

Sustainable transit is about much more than saving the environment

Sustainable transit continues to be a hot topic among city leaders and transit officials, but more often than not, equitability is left out of the conversation.

April 11, 2019

Electric utilities can accelerate electric bus and truck deployment

Electric utilities are an important early investor in charging programs for all EVs, including trucks and buses for several reasons.

August 23, 2017

Transit Agencies Could Benefit from VW Funding

Volkswagen was found guilty and agreed to pay up to $14.7 billion to settle allegations of cheating emissions. As part of the lawsuit, Volkswagen is required to establish and fund an Environmental Mitigation Trust, known as EMT. Over the next 10 years, $2.9 billion from the VW settlement will fund environmental mitigation projects that reduce emissions of NOx.

August 31, 2016

How to pick the right sustainability ratings certification for your transit agency

Rating systems have become the currency of sustainability. The right sustainability ratings system provides an important third-party verification of your agency’s commitment to creating facilities that reduce carbon emissions, save water, create healthier work environments for your employees and have a positive impact on the communities they serve.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (1)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation