While shared-ride transportation is inherently eco-friendly, many members of The GO Group, the world’s largest airport shuttle provider, are going one step further.
GO companies serving San Francisco International, Seattle-Tacoma International, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz Marin International are converting all or part of their fleets to alternative fuels – either compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane. While GO companies in Los Angeles (serving all southern California airports) and Chicago (serving Midway and O’Hare) also are in the process of doing so.
CNG is a fossil fuel, while propane is a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. Both burn cleaner than gasoline or diesel fuels, although CNG is considered the cleaner of the two. Companies that convert to alternative fuels can earn a 50 cents-per-gallon tax credit as well other incentives from local government and the airports.
GO Shuttle Express in Seattle, which has 43 propane-fueled vehicles, began the conversion process last January and has 20 more systems to install.
According to J. R. Rowley, president of GO Shuttle Express, the fuel saving has been around $2 per gallon. Maintenance costs, however, have been slightly higher due to the learning curve.
In San Francisco, GO Lorries has adapted 16 vans to CNG, with another 28 to be retrofitted for CNG by May.
“The conversions are expensive,” says Julio Bonilla, president, “but the fuel savings mitigate the cost.”
As of December, GO Riteway Transportation Group in Milwaukee has moved 21 of its 500-vehicle fleet to propane, experiencing a $7,000 fuel savings since October.
According to Jason Ebert, fleet and facilities coordinator, the maintenance costs are lower as oil changes can now be performed every 7,000 rather than every 5,000 miles as in the past.
Ebert reports one reason GO Riteway opted for propane is that it is 90 percent as efficient as gasoline, which allows for a greater vehicle range than CNG, which is only 31 percent efficient. Also, the cost of a propane conversion is one third less than the cost of a CNG conversion.