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Metro Bus Moves to Transition to Compressed Natural Gas Buses

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announcing a federal grant to transition Metro Bus to a compressed natural gas fleet. Photo by WJON.com’s Jim Maurice

ST. CLOUD — Starting next year, you’ll start seeing Metro Buses that are powered by compressed natural gas.

Metro Bus will use a $3.3-million federal grant to hire Minneapolis-based Wendel Company to design and engineer a refueling station and make safety improvements to their operations facility. Work on design and engineering should begin almost immediately.

Metro Bus spokesman Tony Kellen says they’ll save about two-dollars a gallon compared to diesel-powered buses.  That translates to a savings of about $500,000 the first 18 buses.

Kellen says they received a MnDOT Office of Transit grant to buy the first 10 CNG buses.  St. Cloud bus manufacturer New Flyer is expected to get the order. It will cost Metro Bus an additional $210,000 for the buses.

The local match for the refueling station and safety improvements is about $838,000. But, Kellen says the savings will quickly pay for the local costs.

The refueling station should be completed by the end of 2013 with the buses arriving in the first quarter of 2014.

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