Buses Running Exclusively on Biodiesel Increased to 64
Toledo, Ohio ‑ For the third consecutive year, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority will observe Earth Day (April 22) by operating its fleet completely on regionally purchased biodiesel fuel. This involves TARTA’s four services: fixed-line, Call-A-Ride, Toledo Area Paratransit Service and the Muddy™ Shuttle.
TARTA’s General Manager James K. Gee estimated Tuesday’s fleet will number 180 vehicles.
Additionally, TARTA announced it recently dedicated 33 additional buses to run exclusively on biodiesel. This brings to 64 the number of TARTA buses using the environmentally friendly fuel on a daily basis.
“This is the final year of a three-year federally funded study we’re participating in along with The University of Toledo’s Intermodal Transportation Institute to judge the impacts of using biodiesel fuel,” Gee said. “Our results have been consistently positive with increased mileage and decreased maintenance costs.”
Federal transportations funds released at the request of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments are being used to provide the fuel to run the 33 additional buses exclusively on biodiesel. The grant, received earlier this year, was for $1.1 million dollars
With the addition of 33 more buses using biodiesel totally, Gee said he expected TARTA will utilize approximately 500,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel in 2009.
Gee explained the study uses B20 biodiesel fuel to discover the long-term effects of the fuel mix on diesel-powered vehicles belonging to the City of Toledo and TARTA. The B20 biodiesel-fuel blend is composed of 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) and 20 percent methyl ester biofuel, made from locally grown and refined soybean oil.
The B20 blend is the most common biodiesel fuel and complies with the Energy Policy Act. Biodiesel fuel is better for the environment because it is made from a renewable resource (soybeans), cuts down on foreign oil imports, has lower emissions than regular diesel fuel and is less toxic.
“Since the study is still ongoing, final results are not available. As early as the end of the first year,” Gee said, “we saw a three percent increase in stop-and-go mileage and an eight percent mileage increase in highway mileage for buses using biodiesel. Indications are these results have continued.”
Additionally, the study is measuring emissions and air quality inside of the buses.
TARTA also is testing the impact of injecting hydrogen into the air intakes of buses using biodiesel. The hydrogen portion of the study, directed by H2 Engine Systems of Toledo, shows this approach results in a 15 percent improvement in miles per gallon.
Toledo area Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) has been instrumental in the study. She secured funds to build TARTA’s biodiesel fueling station as well as funds to provide fuel for an earlier group of buses. Congresswoman Kaptur is committed to America’s “energy independence” by replacing imported petroleum with renewable energy, such as biofuels.
The Toledo Area Regionally Paratransit System is a comparable, complementary paratransit service for riders covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was established in 1989 and is operated by TARTA. TARPS is a schedule-in-advance service using special vehicles designed solely for riders with special needs. It provides service throughout the TARTA service area in Lucas and Wood counties.
The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority was formed in 1971 and is a political subdivision under Ohio law, similar to a park district or a school district. TARTA carries nearly 5 million passengers annually and provides interconnected, regional service to seven communities in Lucas County – Toledo, Maumee, Waterville, Ottawa Hills, Sylvania and Spencer and Sylvania townships ‑ and two Wood County communities – Perrysburg and Rossford.