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Love's Trillium Keeps CNG Flowing in Arkansas; U.S. Postal Service Studies Alternative Fuels

Since Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops purchased Chicago-based compressed natural gas (CNG) provider Trillium CNG from WEC Energy Group, the combination has been selected to continue keeping CNG fuel flowing for the Rock Region METRO transit system based in North Little Rock, AR.

In 2014, Trillium designed, built and began operating a CNG station for the bus fleet, and now Rock Region has asked to extend the CNG maintenance services.

Bill Cashmareck, Love's general manager of natural gas operations, said the company's Trillium team is focused on providing comprehensive natural gas vehicle (NGV) services nationwide. "It's important to us to keep systems performing at their maximum capabilities and to rapidly respond to any request through our 24/7 monitoring service."

Love's more than doubled its network of CNG stations with the acquisition of Trillium earlier this year (see Daily GPI,Feb. 10). Trillium CNG provides fuel for thousands of NGVs daily and delivers more than 55 million gallons of CNG annually.

Under its contract with Rock Region METRO, Trillium said it will continue over the next three years to maintain the private fueling station for the fleet with the capability to fuel up to 75 buses daily. The transit system serves 3 million passengers annually and plans to replace its remaining 43 diesel-fueled business with CNG-powered ones by the end of 2025. It originally started with 15 CNG buses in 2015.

Love's Travel Stops operates 10 facilities in Arkansas, with its West Memphis location offering fast-fill CNG for heavy-duty trucks and a CNG fueling option for motorists.

Meanwhile, the 200,000-vehicle fleet operating U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is studying alternative fuels for its ubiquitous general service delivery vehicles.

Six different contractors have won the bidding to provide the USPS with up to 50 prototype alternative fuel vehicles for consideration in developing the new general delivery vehicle (GDV) for delivering America's mail. Eventually, USPS is expected to buy hundreds of thousands of the GDVs, and the six firms vying for contracts are in line to get up to $37.4 million.

The postal service is looking for a GDV that will operate efficiently and economically for 20 years, according to officials with one of six bidders, Workhorse. Other companies working to come up with the ideal vehicle and fuel alternative are AM General, Karsan, Mahindra, Oshkosh and Utilimaster.

Among the current postal fleet, 160,000 vehicles are right-hand drive GDVs, but for the future the postal service will be looking for both left- and right-hand vehicles. Half of the prototypes the USPS plans to evaluate will feature hybrid and new technologies, including alternative fuels.

In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority has taken delivery of 44 Xcelsior articulated buses from New Flyer -- both hybrid electric driveline models and CNG-powered buses.

The 60-foot alternative fuel buses are already being deployed by transit systems around the nation, including Santa Clara, CA, Honolulu, San Francisco and Seattle.

In San Diego, the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) mini-bus shuttle fleet has received the first five of 46 model year 2016 propane-fueled Starcraft Allstar vehicles, equipped with Roush Clean Tech fuel systems. They are the first propane vehicles in the San Diego transit fleet, which relies heavily on natural gas and other alternative fuels.

MTS bought 46 Starcraft Allstar paratransit vehicles on Ford E-450 chassis, and 31 model year 2016 El Dorado National-Aero Elite 320 minibuses on Ford F-550 chassis. Roush is providing propane autogas fuel systems that are being installed by GAS/Green Alternative Systems in Chino, CA.

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