Raymond Richman - Jesse Richman - Howard Richman
Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog
Switching a city bus fleet to CNG is a no-brainer!
When I travel to Philadelphia or Harrisburg from Western PA in my Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) pick-up truck, I stop at a Uni-Mart in State College PA which gets its CNG from the adjacent Centre Area Transit Authority's filling facility. City buses are the fastest growing sector of the growing CNG market. HE System Technologies expects that 12.7% of U.S. buses will be powered by CNG by 2018.
The conversion of buses to CNG just got a shot in the arm. A cost-benefit analysis by Purdue University economists was just published in Energy Science & Engineering. It holds that the transit authority in Lafayette Indiana could save money by gradually replacing its diesel buses, as they wear out, with CNG buses. The switch to CNG would also greatly reduce the particulate emissions that are breathed in by bus passengers and other residents.
Switching to CNG would cost the transit authority more initially, because it would have to construct a CNG filling station at a cost of about $2 million. Also, it would have to pay $450,000 for each new CNG bus, as compared to $400,000 for a diesel bus.
But if a bus system is big enough, the cost of a filling station would be more than recouped through lower fuel costs. The study predicts that the disparity between CNG and diesel prices will continue to grow over time. It calculates that disparity in 2012 as $1.50 for CNG compared to $3.19 per gallon diesel. It projects that by 2028, the price of CNG will have risen to about $2.75 and the price of diesel oil will have risen to about $6.60.
The Lafayette bus system has 73 buses that drive a total of 1.8 million miles per year. The study projects that it would save about $468,000 in present value over 15 years and about $2,923,000 in present value over 20 years by switching to CNG. For a larger bus system, with more buses using the filling station, the savings would be larger. For a smaller bus system, the switch might depend upon whether it could also get grants and/or sell CNG to private drivers.
After transit authority managers read the Purdue study, many will likely begin the switch of their buses to CNG. Doing so is really a "no-brainer." At the same time that they will be saving money, they will be improving the health of their passengers and reducing the air pollution in their community.
Unfortunately, there is one group that is still resisting CNG, despite its positive effects upon transportation costs, upon health, and upon the environment. At this very moment, the bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency are suppressing carbon-reducing CNG conversions, even while they shut down coal-burning plants due to carbon emissions.
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