Real Benefits for a Rural Population
The Charlevoix County Transportation Authority (CCTA) offers the Michigan county curb-to-curb rural transit service, with CCTA buses traveling between 50 and 200 miles each day. When CCTA Director Jill Drury became interested in moving operations away from a reliance on gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles, her research indicated that propane autogas would be the fuel alternative that could bring the most benefits to her county.
With a goal of lowering both its emissions and its total operating costs, CCTA began switching its fleet vehicles to propane autogas in 2016. Six years later, 89% of its fleet is powered by propane autogas.
SERVING A RURAL ENVIRONMENT
Due to its rural location in the northern lower peninsula ofBoyne City, Michigan, CCTA found limited options for fuel alternatives to best serve its population. CCTA Director Jill Drury initially explored the possibility of electric vehicles, but soon realized that range limitations would severely impact its vehicles’ ability to successfully complete the number of miles covered each day. However, after contacting a local propane fuel vendor, CCTA learned it would be able to have an on-site fueling station installed with very little additional investment of funds, in return for agreeing to a contract that guarantees propane fueling for the transit fleet.
The CCTA’s goal of reducing its overall costs was also well-served by a switch to propane autogas, which is offered at a substantially lower rate when compared to other fuels. Currently, the price of gasoline in the area served by CCTA is approximately $4.20 per gallon, more than twice as much as the current per-gallon propane autogas cost of $2.05. In addition, the cleaner operation of propane autogas allowed the agency to reduce maintenance costs in maintaining its fleet. Propane autogas ranks as the most efficient mid-duty transit bus fuel available based on cost and life cycle, according to a 2021 Energy Department Clean Cities study.
AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY OPTION
With reducing emissions being an additional goal established by CCTA, propane autogas clearly offered the environmentally friendly advantages that other fuels could not match. Classified as a non-containment by the Environmental Protection Agency and an alternative fuel by the Department of Energy, propane autogas is a nontoxic, non-carcinogenic, and non-corrosive fuel, allowing vehicles to emit fewer greenhouse gases, smogproducing hydrocarbons, and particulate emissions than conventional fuels.
In 2019, we saved $130,000 in fuel costs alone with 13 propane vehicles, plus received about $20,000 in alternative fuel credits. We are mindful of the environment and happy that by switching buses from diesel and gasoline to propane autogas, we are helping the air, land, and waters where we live and vacation.” Jill Drury, Director, CCTA