In the U.S. State of Nebraska, city of Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler and StarTran officials have celebrated the arrival of five new compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, which will be less expensive to operate and better for the environment. StarTran plans to add eight more CNG buses and 11 CNG handi-vans over the next two years.
“Over the 15-year lifetime of these vehicles, the City will save about $1.3 million in lower fuel costs and reduced maintenance,” Mayor Beutler said. “At the same time, natural gas produces 25 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel fuel. These vehicles will benefit the entire community and demonstrate the dedication of StarTran to a high-quality, cost efficient transit system.”
The buses, engineered by New Flyer, replace buses which have been in service for over 12 years. They cost about $484,000 each, with an additional cost of about $35,000 for the CNG fuel system. StarTran Transit Manager Mike Davis said the additional investment in the CNG systems will pay off in about six years. State funding covered the additional cost on three of the first five buses, and Mayor Beutler thanked Black Hills Energy for donating $70,000 to cover the additional cost on the other two.
Davis said that once the 24 CNG vehicles are in operation, they will make up about one-third of the StarTran fleet. He also acknowledged the safety aspects of CNG: CNG storage tanks are stronger than gasoline or diesel fuel tanks, reducing the likelihood of accidental release. If released, CNG disperses quickly into the air instead of forming pools on the ground, thus reducing the risk of fire and ground contamination. Davis said CNG engines also operate more quietly than diesel engines.
The buses are fitted with cylinders from local company Hexagon Lincoln, an international designer and manufacturer of composite Type 4 pressure vessels.
The 30-passenger buses will operate on StarTran routes that serve the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) — Route 24 Holdredge and Route 25 Vine City Campus.
(Source: City of Lincoln)