NEW BUSES UNVEILED

River Valley Transit has 10 more CNG vehicles

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/SPECIAL TO THE EXPRESS At top, Michelle Ferguson, regional energy manager for the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Northcentral region office, speaks Tuesday at an event celebrating the arrival of 10 buses fueled by compressed natural gas at River Valley Transit in Williamsport. Above, Marcus Kohl, regional director of the state Department of Environmental Protection, left, and Scott Schriner, Gannett Fleming project manager, fuel a River Valley Transit bus with compressed natural gas.

WILLIAMSPORT — River Valley Transit unveiled 10 new compressed natural gas buses Tuesday, adding to a fleet of vehicles that operate on the cleaner-burning fuel.

On hand for the ceremony at 1500 W. Third St. were officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection, River Valley Transit, and Gillig, the bus manufacturer.

River Valley Transit just expanded its service to include Clinton County, running buses six days per week from downtown Williamsport to Jersey Shore, McElhattan, Lock Haven and various points nearby.

Use of natural gas as a fuel reduces pollutants such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates and sulpher oxides, according to Marcus Kohl, DEP regional director for the north central regional.

DEP Air Quality Program officials estimated that the deployment of the 10 compressed natural gas buses into the River Valley Transit fleet will result in reductions of air emissions in the following pollutants:

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/SPECIAL TO THE EXPRESS At top, Michelle Ferguson, regional energy manager for the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Northcentral region office, speaks Tuesday at an event celebrating the arrival of 10 buses fueled by compressed natural gas at River Valley Transit in Williamsport. Above, Marcus Kohl, regional director of the state Department of Environmental Protection, left, and Scott Schriner, Gannett Fleming project manager, fuel a River Valley Transit bus with compressed natural gas.

r Two pounds per day of sulphur oxides

r Four pounds per day of particulate matter

r Five pounds per hour of nitrogen oxides

r Eight pounds per minute of carbon monoxide.

Those gases and pollutants were represented at the ceremony by colored balloons. Each color represented a different gas or particulate that is dispersed into the air through combustion of diesel fuel engines.

These gases and particulates are among those contributing to overall air pollution, Kohl said.

Meanwhile, DEP is assisting River Valley Transit with costs for converting the bus fleet by provided a $200,000 grant from its Alternative Fuels Incentive Program, according to Michelle Ferguson, DEP regional energy manager.

River Valley Transit’s compressed natural gas fueling station also was partially funded through a separate DEP grant, she said.

The alternative fuel incentive grant program was established in 1992, Ferguson said.

The grants are available to help to create new markets for alternative fuels by investing in deployment of vehicles, fleets and technologies that use those types of fuels, she said.

The use of natural gas reduces dependency on foreign oil, according to Ferguson.

The use of the local supplies of natural gas provides jobs and helps the overall economy.

The buses are pleasant for riders who no longer have to smell diesel fumes, according to Kevin Kilpatrick, planning manager for River Valley Transit.

Seven years since conversion, the bus service has saved about $400,000 on fuel, according to William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director and general manager of the bus service.

Scott Schriner, project engineer with Gannett-Fleming, showed the tour group the storage areas for the gas.

There are commercial fuel stations and one for the public.

The grant for alternative fuel use is creating new markets through investment in deployment of these fuels for vehicles, fleets and technologies.

Jerry Sheehan, regional sales manager for Gillig, said it would take emissions from 400 buses that are converted to compressed natural gas and on the road today to match what was spewing out of a bus that ran on diesel fuel in the year 2000.

Plus, the federal government is on board, providing a 50-cents rebate on each gallon of compressed natural gas, Nichols said.

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