The Unified Government (UG) of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., will have converted 13 buses and two pickup trucks to propane fuel by the end of April. The transit fleet expects these converted vehicles to cut annual fuel costs by at least $100,000 for a 74-percent cost reduction, according to UG.

 “We are thrilled to be on the forefront of this emerging technology,” said UG Fleet Manager Merle McCullough. “Our main objectives were to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, reduce our carbon footprint, and save the transit patrons from any possible increase in fares due to rising fuel costs.”

Through a partnership with Ferrellgas, the UG is able to lock in an annual savings less than half the cost of gasoline. The conversion to propane replaces more than 50,000 gallons of gasoline currently being consumed on an annual basis. Ferrellgas is supplying the fuel station and dispenser and providing propane safety training for staff. The conversion costs nearly $9,000 per vehicle, paid for by remaining funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (ECBG), which was awarded to the UG in 2010.

“The Unified Government has taken a leadership role in Greater Kansas City by making the progressive decision to implement propane-powered buses for transit,” said Kelly Gilbert, transportation director at Metropolitan Energy Center.

“The conversion of the Unified Government’s bus fleet from gasoline to propane is beneficial in so many ways.  Major fuel cost savings, protecting the environment, and lengthening of bus life are just a few of the benefits of using propane fuel,” said Emerick Cross, UG director of transit. “It will be a win-win situation for transit riders, the Unified Government, and the citizens of our community.”

The UG upgraded its fleet just last year with the purchase of several new buses. According to Cross, this is an ongoing effort by the UG to reduce costs and improve operations.

“UG Transit joins other area fleets in using propane autogas, and Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition congratulates Unified Government for making this progressive move,” said Gilbert, who also serves as director of the regional Clean Cities coalition.

The conversion to propane is part of an ongoing initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s government-industry partnership Clean Cities program. 

“The Unified Government is proud of the work of Merle McCullough as the project manager in this fuel conversion program. It is through his initiative and dedication that this cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative fueling system has become a reality,” said Bob Roddy, director of Public Works.