Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Natural Gas Buses for Shreveport, Louisiana

By Adam Kealoha Causey • acausey@gannett.com • Gannett • March 30, 2009
SHREVEPORT - Shreveport is examining how natural gas can fuel more than just mass transit.The city plans to use $4.7 million in federal economic stimulus money for bus system upgrades. Much of it will be gas-related.

"We don't want to see this just stopping at SporTran," Mayor Cedric Glover said last week.

That directive points City Hall staffers toward moving other fleets, such as garbage and dump trucks, to the locally extractable, cleaner-burning fuel.

Getting the money for buses now doesn't mean other city vehicles aren't a priority, according to Shreveport environmental affairs manager Wes Wyche.

"SporTran, because they're a transit agency, actually got an automatic formula apportionment," Wyche said. "So they got the money without having to compete for it."

City department leaders don't know about a similar conduit for public works vehicles, Wyche said, but they are looking for competitive grants to help them catch up with SporTran.

Beyond that, the city also would consider selling compressed natural gas from its planned fueling station to private businesses and other buyers, Glover said.

Construction on the fueling station should start in the next 10 to 12 months at the SporTran office at 1115 Jack Wells Blvd., department director Gene Eddy said. Natural gas will get there via pipelines, much like it does to homes and businesses with gas service.

Shreveport is not partnering with any Haynesville Shale operators, Eddy said.

The new buses should arrive in the next 12-14 months, Eddy said. They should be rolling on Shreveport and Bossier City streets in 15 months.

Vehicles that run on natural gas are more expensive than those that run on gasoline or diesel, but state and federal tax credits help curb costs, Stephe Yborra told The Times in January. Yborra is communications director for Natural Gas Vehicles for America. The organization put on a workshop in January at the Shreveport Convention Center.

Natural Gas Vehicles for America targets fleets that need central fueling, have repetitive routes and use 7,000 to 15,000 gallons of fuel a year.

Another benefit, Yborra said, is that when gasoline and diesel prices cost $4 to $5 a gallon, natural gas prices were nearly $2 per gallon cheaper.
Additional Facts

By the numbers
The breakdown for the $4.7 million Shreveport will receive for its bus system:
5 new natural gas-powered buses: $2.1 million.
Building a fueling station: $1.5 million.
Converting maintenance facility: $335,000.
Training costs: $50,000.
Rebuilding engines, transmission: $100,000.
Replacing the bus washer $150,000.
Security cameras: $154,000.
Facilities: $90,000.
Terminal upgrades: $150,000.
Bus bike racks: $47,500.
Architectural, engineering work: $40,000.
Total: $4,716,500.
Source: SporTran


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