by Dennis Dalman
St. Cloud Metro Bus is expected to save $300,000 in fuel costs, thanks to its new line of buses that runs on compressed natural gas.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to introduce the new buses is set for 10 a.m. Friday, May 16 at the Metro Bus Operations Center, 665 Franklin Ave. NE, St. Cloud. Speakers at the event will include St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis and Metro Bus Executive Director Ryan Daniel, as well as officials from Xcel Energy, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the local New Flyer bus company and the office of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
St. Cloud Metro Bus is the first public-transit agency in Minnesota to operate a bus fleet fueled by compressed natural gas. The CNG project is the most complex project ever undertaken in the service’s 55-year history. The investment cost $8 million for construction and renovation and $11.4 million for brand-new buses.
Each new CNG bus costs $445,000, which is $40,000 more than a non-CNG, diesel-fueled bus. However, Metro Bus officials say the new buses will save an estimated $300,000 in fuel costs annually throughout a 10-year period. Another plus is that CNG buses are much cleaner, more environmentally friendly vehicles.
The 35-foot Xcelsior CNG buses are built by the New Flyer company in St. Cloud.
Currently, Metro Bus has a fleet of 67 buses. This year, it will replace 23 fixed-route buses with the new CNG buses, along with six CNG paratransit buses.
The buses are fueled at a compressed-gas fueling station.
The CNG project at Metro Bus is funded by a $3.35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Clean Fuels grant program, a $9.1 million MnDOT grant and a local revenue bond.
St. Cloud Metro bus operates in Sartell, St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids and Waite Park, with some of its operating revenues contributed by those cities. It runs seven days a week and its total trips are about 2.4 million per year, counting fixed-route rides, commuter bus rides and dial-a-ride service.
photo courtesy of www.newflyer.com
St. Cloud Metro Bus is the first public-transit agency in Minnesota to operate a bus fleet fueled by compressed natural gas.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.