|B50 bus in Cincinnati.|
Beginning this month, Cincinnati (Ohio) Metro is fueling all of its buses with a B50 biodiesel blend (50% biodiesel). Metro intends to use the 50% blend in months when the average temperature is higher than 40º F (April to October) and switch back to a B20 blend in colder months.
This increase will make Metro one of the largest biodiesel users in the nation, consuming about 1.3 million gallons a year. Budget is the primary reason for this aggressive use of the alternative fuel. Metro’s 390 buses use about 3.6 million gallons of fuel per year.
Metro saves about $1 for every gallon of biodiesel purchased through an arrangement with its local fuel supplier, Peter Cremer North America. The biodiesel is manufactured locally from Ohio soybeans; Ohio is the sixth largest producer of soybeans in the nation.
Currently, biodiesel is less expensive for Metro than regular diesel fuel on the open market. Market price for regular diesel in the region is around $2.28 per gallon, compared to Metro’s contract price of $1.78 per gallon for biodiesel.
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 the tests were funded through special alternative fuels grants. Based on these experiences, Metro has been pleased with the performance of the fuel in its buses, but cost was an issue until recently.
In early September 2005 when Hurricane Katrina caused disruption in deliveries of diesel fuel to the Cincinnati area, Metro arranged to purchase biodiesel in lieu of scarce diesel fuel. Metro has continued to purchase biodiesel since that time.