Natural-gas bus fleet grows in Lafayette
by Associated Press Wire
December 17, 2012 01:00 PM | 438 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The initiative to transition Lafayette’s bus fleet from diesel fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas is about to get a big boost.

The Advocate reports Lafayette has received 12 natural gas-powered buses at no cost from Gwinnett County, Ga., that phased out the units in favor of larger models.

The buses are now undergoing inspections and routine maintenance and should be newly painted and rolling by the spring, said City-Parish Transit and Parking Manager Mike Mitchell.

The buses will add to the existing fleet of five natural gas-powered buses that Lafayette bought new in 2011, and five more new natural-gas buses are on order, said City-Parish Director of Traffic and Transportation Tony Tramel.

Mitchell said the full conversion of the bus fleet to natural gas is not expected until 2020, but Lafayette has taken a big jump over the past two years in switching to what’s touted as a cheaper and cleaner-burning alternative to diesel fuel.

Tramel said another selling point for the effort is that the local oil and gas service industry has been a key player in the discovery and production of what has been a growing supply of natural gas in Louisiana.

"Why shouldn’t we be the model for the state," he said of the switch to natural gas-powered vehicles.

The use of natural-gas buses should help cut air pollution from exhaust, but a major lure has been the reduction in fuel expenses, Mitchell said.

A regular diesel bus in Lafayette’s transit service uses an average of $4,300 worth of diesel fuel a month, but the monthly fuel cost for a natural gas-powered bus ranges from $1,400 to $1,700, according to estimates from Mitchell.

"We believe we will see a huge benefit in transportation costs," Mitchell said.

City-parish government has also been converting its normal fleet of vehicles from gasoline to natural gas.

Tramel said 45 vehicles have already been converted and another 20 will be converted before the end of the year.

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Information from: The Advocate.

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