Roush CleanTech and the Flint Mass Transportation Authority unveiled its first propane autogas paratransit vehicle at the 2011 BusCon Expo in Chicago. The shuttle on display will be in service by October, while a second propane autogas vehicle already has hit the streets, serving Michigan’s City of Flint and Genesee County. With the help of a $5 million federal grant, Flint MTA plans to add at least 48 more 16-passenger propane autogas shuttles to its fleet by early 2012.
The Roush CleanTech propane autogas buses, built on a Ford E-450 chassis with a 6.8L V10 engine and 41-gallon propane fuel tank, are part of the transit authority’s decision to become a leader in environmental stewardship and reduce costs to the areas it services. “Propane autogas is a good fit for Flint Mass Transportation Authority,” says Edgar Benning, general manager of Flint MTA. “We anticipate purchasing propane fuel for half the price of diesel. It will reduce our dependency on diesel and drive down our cost of operation.”
Roush CleanTech says that by switching to propane autogas, which burns cleaner in engines than conventional fuels, Flint MTA’s fleet vehicles will sustain reduced maintenance costs and the potential for a longer engine life. “We at Roush CleanTech are fortunate to be working with our neighbors at Flint MTA,” says Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing. “They are leaders in the movement to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil by researching and putting into action an alternative fueling station and by switching a large percentage of their fleet to propane autogas – all while cutting fuel costs by up to 40 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 24 percent.”
Roush CleanTech says that along with domestic fueling and cost reduction benefits, propane autogas vehicles emit less carbon dioxide, about 20 percent less nitrogen oxide, 60 percent less carbon monoxide and up to 24 percent less greenhouse gas when compared with gasoline-fueled vehicles; they also release fewer smog-producing particulates, reducing short-term and long-term health effects in passengers.
Last month, Flint MTA broke ground to install an alternative fueling station in Grand Blanc Township that includes propane autogas; the first of its kind in Michigan, the station should be completed by 2012. In time it will be open to the public and have a community training facility for a variety of alternative fuels. “Propane is a green alternative, and it’s a good fit because we don’t have to spend money on the infrastructure in our buildings to operate these vehicles,” Benning says.