As Interim Executive Director for the Benzie Bus, a public transit company in rural northern Michigan, Chad Hollenbeck is responsible for controlling costs and maintaining a fleet that can provide exceptional service to customers. Hollenbeck has over three years of fleet management experience and strives to “provide the best possible transportation service to the public, while also making sure it is efficient”. He has been with Benzie Bus since the company started in 2007 and has helped the service grow from a fleet of five to twenty-three vehicles that provide over 70,000 annual rides. Reducing annual miles and improving routing efficiency are a couple of strategies Hollenbeck has traditionally used to save on fuel costs. Alternative fuel use is a new strategy that brings additional benefits to the fleet.
Benzie Bus made a decision to incorporate propane-fueled buses into their fleet in 2012 after two of the company’s mechanics attended a workshop and learned about the technology. The two-day training session organized by Clean Energy Coalition and presented by Texas State Technical College’s Clean Start Training program took place at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan in May 2012. Demonstration vehicles from Roush CleanTech, ICOM North America, and Impco Automotive were on site, which helped attendees see the similarities and differences between the systems. After the training, the Benzie Bus technicians were convinced that propane would be a good fit for their fleet. “With the cleanliness of the propane systems on both the environment and the internal parts of the engine and the availability of the grant funding we felt that this was the perfect time to try operating a portion of our fleet on propane.” Hollenbeck and the staff decided that a duel-fuel option was best in order to eliminate range anxiety on long, rural routes.
Once the staff was on board with the transition to alternative fuels, Hollenbeck’s next challenge was to secure funding to install the Icom duel-fuel system on five 2008 Ford E-450 buses. Benzie Bus secured its first round of grant funding in 2012 from the State and Federal Government for the conversions and a fuel pump and secured additional funds to convert two more buses in 2013. In addition to the Clean Start Training, Billy DeRooy, Benzie Bus lead mechanic and service technician, was certified by ICOM to install and service the systems. The Benzie Bus Organization is proud to be a first mover to propane in the area.
The Benzie Bus fleet has used over 13,666 gallons of propane since 2012. The switch has saved approximately 16 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and 132 barrels of oil. Hollenbeck is realizing cost savings, too. “It really was an easy decision. The fuel costs alone will help save our company money. We currently purchase propane for less than half the price of unleaded or diesel fuel.”
The NTEA is continuing their involvement with Clean Cities by offering a free pass to the upcoming Work Truck Show in Indianapolis March 5-7, and discounted rates for the Green Truck Summit March 4-5.
Click here to download the Work Truck Show Free Pass, customized for Clean Cities, which grants free entry to The Work Truck Show (March 5-7) and includes access to the Green Truck Ride-and-Drive and free admission to one concurrent education session of the attendee’s choice, http://www.ntea.com/worktruckshow/index.aspx?id=3456
As an added benefit to our Clean Cities coalition partners, this pass offers exclusive pricing for the Green Truck Summit of $179 (reg. $279). The Green Truck Summit events start on March 4. (Special sessions and special events do incur additional fees.)