Grant would allow county to put buses on low-gas diet

Transit system aims to convert vehicles to hybrids to save $10,455
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee County will convert its fleet of mini-buses to electric hybrid vehicles if it gets a federal grant administered by the state.

The Congestion Mitigation Air Quality, CMAQ, grant would pay for converting up to six minibuses over two years, increasing fuel efficiency by 25% and reducing emissions by 20%, Transit Superintendent Joy Neilson told members of the county Public Works Committee last week.

The committee approved Neilson’s request to apply for the grant.

  Over two years, it would mean a reduction in fuel usage of 35,468 gallons over the useful life of the six vehicles, she said.

The county’s Shared-Ride Taxi Service provides 9,345 rides per month with a fleet of minibuses, minivans, and sedans. The county has for years expanded its use of hybrid vehicles.

The project will result in a cost savings of about $1,742 per year per vehicle, or a total cost savings of $10,455 over the projected life of the vehicle, Neilson said.

CO2 emissions will be reduced by more than 315 metric tons over the life of each vehicle, she said.

This plan differs from buying hybrid vehicles in that it converts traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric power through the installation of XLH Hybrid System kits manufactured by XL Fleet Electrification. 

The kits consist of a battery and motor that attach to the van’s drive train. When the vehicle reaches the end of its service life, the kit can be removed and attached to another vehicle, Neilson said.

Each kit is estimated to cost about $16,000, which includes installation, data services and training of county mechanics, with the grant covering about 80% of the cost, Neilson said.

“Ozaukee County is unlikely to convert the minibus fleet into hybrids without a CMAQ grant,” Neilson said. “The cost savings from increased fuel economy does not cover the cost of the conversion kits over the life of the vehicle.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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