APTA | Passenger Transport
August 3, 2009

In This Issue

In this weeks Classifieds, you'll find:

6 DBE opportunities


11 RFPs


Ben Franklin Transit Shows Environmental Leadership
BY TIM FREDRICKSON, General Manager, Ben Franklin Transit, Richland, WA

Ben Franklin Transit (BFT), located in southeastern Washington State, has been showcasing its environmental leadership for the past 18 years.

The public transit agency serves the cities of Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, West Richland, Benton City, and Prosser in a region commonly known as the Tri-Cities, which is home to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory of Washington State University, and located in the heart of Washington’s wine country. Business Week magazine recently recognized the Tri-Cities as the third best place in the nation to “start over.”

The mission of Ben Franklin Transit is to promote the principles and practices of livable communities and sustainable development. Our ultimate goal is to provide exceptional and cost-effective transportation services that have the smallest possible impact on the environment. We are excited to be in an area that has the technical and scientific resources to be able to experiment with new technologies and applications.

Educating the Community
With sustainability as one of its core values, BFT was the primary sponsor of a recent community-wide forum directed at educating the community on the principles and practices of livable communities and sustainable development. This effort brought about the development of a set of principles for more sustainable urban planning and development in the region. Although the region has not adopted these principles formally, many local jurisdictions have incorporated the urban design standards into their new planning criteria.

In early 2007, BFT became unique among transit agencies in the United States, and possibly the world, by introducing a blend of two clean and renewable fuels—biodiesel and ethanol—both of which can be developed from crops grown locally for energy or bioenergy. The agency tested the blended fuel in 22 vehicles that represent five different chassis manufacturers, with seven different diesel engines built between 1988 and 2006.

The composite fuel enabled BFT to address the shortcomings of ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) by creating a fuel that provides the needed lubrication qualities of diesel and will flow at a temperature of 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit without additional additives. The fuel blend was made locally with 71 percent ULSD, 20 percent biodiesel, 7.7 percent ethanol, and the remainder a fuel called O2Diesel. This equates to a 28 percent reduction in fossil fuel. The blend also substantially reduces nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and smoke emissions.

BFT also recycles 99 percent of all recyclable materials including bus wash and irrigation water, lubricants, oil and oil filters, antifreeze, batteries, and tires. The motto around the transit property is “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.”

For these reasons and several others, the city of Richland honored BFT as its Green Business of the Year in 2006. The following year, the agency received the Washington State Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention and Sustainable Practices.

Continuing to build on BFT’s core values, we will continue a tradition of sustainability and environmentally sound practices. BFT has a building project, funded in part by ARRA funds, that is scheduled to start in August as part of an ongoing base facility expansion and modernization project. BFT will use LEED developed guidelines in design and construction to qualify for LEED certification.

Two New Projects
Because of its willingness to participate in the development of sustainable fuels and energy use, BFT has been approached in regard to two other projects, both of which address carbon footprint and greenhouse gas reduction, not only in transit buses, but potentially in other vehicles as well.

The first project is a fuel substitution system using hydrogen without any technical invasion of the engine. It would involve a patented process that uses a small onboard hydrogen reformer, with water and methanol as a substitution fuel during periods of high emissions such as engine startup, idling, and low-speed urban operations.

The other deals with an all-electric conversion, replacing a vehicle’s engine with an electric motor and a battery pack from SSC Green Inc., located in West Richland, WA. The firm’s product is a liquid-cooled all-electric powertrain that can be tailored to fit BFT’s torque and horsepower needs, using a battery pack made in America.

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