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Cincinnati Metro Switches to B30 Biodiesel Blend Post-Katrina

Cincinnati (OH) Metro has switched to a B30 biodiesel blend (30% biodiesel, 70% petroleum diesel) for its buses in response to the disruption in fuel deliveries caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The bus fleet uses about 10,000 gallons of diesel per day and Metro has the capacity to store enough fuel to operate the fleet for one week. To extend its supply, Metro turned to biodiesel.

Metro will operate its 390 buses starting with a B30 blend. The percentage of biodiesel that Metro uses will change based on availability of regular diesel fuel.

Metro has recently been designated as a “blender” by the IRS, which means that Metro is permitted to mix biodiesel and regular diesel fuel in its own tanks and is eligible for a credit on the cost of the fuel.

The price of regular diesel fuel on the open market in the area is around $2.30 per gallon; biodiesel cost is about $3, but Metro gets a almost $1 credit per gallon from the IRS due to Metro’s blender status.

Metro was one of the first transit systems in the country to experiment with biodiesel, operating its buses several million miles on the alternative fuel. In 1993 and 1994, Metro participated in two successful national tests for soybean-based biodiesel. In 2000, Metro experimented with biodiesel made from recycled cooking oils from local restaurants. In 2001, Metro operated almost half its fleet on a soydiesel blend. All of those tests were funded through special alternative fuels grants.

Metro is a non-profit public service of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, providing about 22 million rides per year in Greater Cincinnati.



Finally, my city does something worthy of appearing on Green Car Congress. Just a few years ago, two-thirds of Cincinnatians voted against a light rail mass transit system.


This response is just another example of why a diverse fuel system is far more robust. By shifting the fuel source of the bulk of miles travelled by Americans from gas/diesel to a blend of gas/diesel, electricity, and biofuels, and by reducing the total miles travelled due to mass transit, cycling, carpooling, telecommuting, and smarter community planning, we will achieve a system of transportation that will be more resilliant against unexpected problems in supply.

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