Thursday, October 17, 2013

Duty Cycles Guide Alt-Fuel Strategies: Public fleet managers say vehicle size and application affect success with alternative-fuel initiatives.

WASHINGTON —Selecting an alternative-fuel strategy has as much to do with the types of vehicles
in service as it does the type of fuel chosen, public fleet executives said during an alternative-fuel conference here. Also vital is a clear understanding of the goals, and support from upper management, fleet experts said during the Alternative Clean Transportation Expo in June. Which could explain why success stories from participants in a public services panel varied as much as the fleets’ operations.

“The business model must work on its own merit and align with your goals,” said Ron Halley, vice president of fleets and facilities for Student Transportation Inc. Halley said school bus fleets are finding success with propane, thanks in part to availability of engine conversions and the ability to refuel at a central location every night.

 The fuel’s low cost, relative to gasoline and diesel, and clean emissions appeal to school districts looking to cut costs and promote fleet sustainability, he said. But that doesn’t mean decision makers are leaping to make change.

“The biggest challenge is overcoming resistance to change,” he said. “It may be exciting to you, but may be seen as a threat to the folks you are trying to sell it to.”

Halley said school bus fleets can expect 20% to 25% in cost savings when switching to propane from gasoline and diesel, but he noted that it takes commitment from management and operations executives to make it work.

“Trying to take shortcuts or do this on the cheap doesn’t work,” he said. “But it is not often you get to shape change in an industry.” Read more here.

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