Districts switching to alternative fuels are creating a lot of buzz. First there was a tremendous amount of attention to propane engines. And now the focus has shifted to compressed natural gas, especially since we officially have started production on our new Saf-T-Liner® C2 CNG school bus with the Cummins ISB6.7 G engine and Allison 2000 Series transmission (which, by the way, is the first in the industry). But does compressed natural gas deserve all of this attention, and is the switch really worth it?
We’re here to help. If compressed natural gas is new to your district, or if you are considering making the switch, here is a brief rundown of what you can expect: a compressed natural gas 101, if you will.
Why do it? What’s all the hype about?
Let’s start by saying that compressed natural gas isn’t right for every district. We realize that fuel of choice isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. For many districts, diesel fuel works just fine, while others would rather invest in propane. But if compressed natural gas is right for you, there are a number of benefits you can expect.
How Much Does it Cost?
Converting to compressed natural gas is an investment, but an investment that pays for itself and saves you money in the future. Overall, when calculating overall costs, you should consider:
Basically, you will need to replace spark plugs regularly and also inspect and replace your fuel and low pressure filters. CNG engines also require Low Ash Natural Gas oil.
Finally, technicians need to be familiar with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 52. NFPA code 52 mandates that customers inspect their fuel cylinders at least once every two years for nicks and cuts, although annual inspection is recommended. An inspection by a certified inspector must take place every three years.
Is it worth it?
Absolutely! Most fleets recoup their initial capital cost in just a few years and reap the benefits of cost savings for many years to come, along with the benefits of streamlined maintenance and a cleaner-operating, quieter bus. Our customers continually comment on how they love their compressed natural gas buses and how easy they are to service and to drive, not to mention how quiet they are and how good their fuel economy has been.
If you are considering making the switch, start now. Contact your local dealer to discuss whether compressed natural gas is right for you. Thomas Built Buses currently offers three types of compressed natural gas buses: the Minotour® CNG, Saf-T-Liner® C2 CNG and the Saf-T-Liner® HDX CNG.