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Minnesota Metro Transit to Buy 150 Hybrid Buses, Move to B10 in Mid-2007

22 August 2006

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that Metro Transit will purchase an additional 150 diesel-electric hybrid buses and 164 new clean diesel buses to replace 314 older buses.

Metro Transit will also double the biodiesel content of its fuel supply from a B5 blend (5% biodiesel) to B10 by mid-2007. The State of Minnesota requires two-percent bio-additives in diesel fuel.

We have already begun an operational test of 20 percent biodiesel in a portion of our fleet. This could be a precursor to even higher concentrations of soy esther, further boosting the use of this renewable energy supply.

—Peter Bell, Metropolitan Council Chair

Metro Transit consumes and supplies about 10 million gallons of diesel fuel each year. In recent years, the agency:

  • Incorporated three hybrid electric test buses into its fleet.

  • Became the first transit provider in the state to use ultra low sulfur diesel, the cleanest available.

  • Modified bus transmissions for better fuel economy.

  • Implemented a strategy to reduce bus engine idling.

The Governor also announced that the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) has installed an E-85 fuel tank at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport, making it the first airport in the US to adopt a biofuel standard for its ground transportation vehicles.

The 6,000 gallon tank will ensure that airport flex-fuel ground transportation vehicles are fueled exclusively with the cleaner burning, homegrown ethanol blend. About 2,000 gallons have been pumped since the tank was installed in June.

MAC purchased its first flex-fuel vehicle for its fleet in 2005 and has added seven more vehicles that run on E-85 this year. Their goal is to add three to five E-85 vehicles annually to replace aging vehicles in its fleet.

E85 usage in Minnesota state vehicles has increased by 53% from last year. In the first six months of 2006, state vehicles have used more than 77,000 gallons of E85 compared to 41,000 gallons in 2005. There are 1,171 flex-fuel vehicles in the state fleet.

August 22, 2006 in Biodiesel, Ethanol, Fleets, Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

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I am elated to be living in an area where my vote buys me such forward thinking representation. Now, Gov. Pawlenty should logically send some of that infrastucture money to the DTA in Duluth. This is the next largest metropolitan area behind Minneapolis/St. Paul. It serves an estimated 113,000 people on a daily basis, and is exclusively diesel powered. I would up the ante, if I were them, and go for Hydrogenics busses near the southern wind farms, but...

Pawlenty definately has his head in the right place on this one. Hopefully more states will follow his lead. I live in North Dakota and I strongly believe we should have an E10 and B2 mandate here.

I'm in accord with Bike Dude - upgrade those Duluthian diesels - they're stinking up the west end..
BTW Duluth's July avg. temp. was the hottest on record.

At the same time, it seems less exciting to say:

Over the next 5 years, Minnesota will replace half of their retiring buses with hybrid buses and the other half with cleaner diesel.

This is good, but we need more.

OR, one could say:

Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro will replace 100% of it's new busses with cleaner diesel models, include nearly 50% hybrid busses, itself a >1000% increase [there were previously none/few, now there shall be 150].

It is inefficient to use hybrids on routes that contain a majority of high speed highway usage, as the regenerative breaking doesn't get used enough to create much power. Downsized engines are taxed by highway travel, so very little ICE-driven recharging is being done. Clean diesel technology is pretty much the only other viable option. CNG would also work, but then the busses wouldn't be running on B10, which is somewhat renewable, and widely available from existing Transit infrastructure.

Related note in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper today. The headline and subhead says it all:

"Motorists get pumped up over ethanol: Statewide sales of E85 hit a record in July, as 288 stations moved 2.1 million gallons."

Also, the Northstar Commuter Rail project passed another major hurdle and is on track (pun intended) to be ready for riders in three years.

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