Bluefield Area Transit, which services the West Virginia counties of Mercer and McDowell, has commenced the journey to a natural gas fueled fleet with the recent acquisition of its first bus equipped to run with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). As reported by local news service bdtonline, new buses purchased over the past two years have all been prepped for conversion to CNG.
West Virginia has an abundance of natural gas which creates an environment for stable gas fuel pricing compared to the major fluctuations evidenced historically for diesel prices.
For Blue Area Transit, economics is the main driver for preparing the switch to natural gas. That natural gas buses have a significantly longer maintenance cycle than diesel and are less impactful upon the environment are added incentives for the regional public transportation company. The trigger for conversion activity will be the next upward price movement of diesel.
According to the report, the first CNG bus presently refuels at Bluefield Gas Company, which operates its own 100% CNG fleet. That is also the goal for Bluefield Area Transit and eventually for the city of Bluefield’s heavy vehicle fleet. The report says the city has funding available to build a new transit facility which will include a slow-fill CNG station.