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Shuttle Service CNG Viability

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  • Shuttle Service CNG Viability

    I'm considering CNG for the shuttle service I operate and I was looking for some opinions of people with CNG experience about the potential cost savings (or lack of) for using CNG in my application. I realize I've got a lot of variables going on here - but any advice is appreciated:

    We have 3 vehicles, one is a 2006 Ford E-350 15 passenger van with 5.4 V8 that I understand is readily convertible to CNG. The other two are 2006 Ford E-250 5.4 V8 cargo vans that have been converted to passenger vehicles by a major van conversion company. I think these two might not have a certified conversion available for them. But if the cost savings is significant enough, changing vehicles is an option.

    Among these three vehicles we burn between 105 and 140 gallons of gasoline per day, depending mainly on ambient temperature. We operate 7 days per week, and fuel bills could easily total $12,000 per month. Gasoline prices are about $3.92 per gallon here while CNG price from the city gas co works out to about $1.59 per GGE. Nearest CNG station is selling at $2.39 per GGE though.

    One round-trip run for a shuttle is 330 miles and the vehicles get between 12 and 16 MPG. We can only fuel once before the trip begins, and once at midpoint of the trip. I realize this could be a stumbling block for me. I see the following possible options:

    1. Somehow stuffing about 32 GGE on board an exclusively CNG van and fueling once either at midpoint or at the beginning of the trip.

    2. Stuffing about 22 GGE on board a bi-fuel van with a spare 10 gallon gasoline tank and fueling CNG once per trip either at the midpoint or beginning.

    3. Having a 16 GGE tank on board an exclusive CNG van and fueling at the beginning and midpoint of the round-trip.

    4. Having a 12 GGE tank on board a bi-fuel van with a spare 15 gallon gasoline tank and fueling CNG at the beginning and midpoint of the round-trip.

    Other issues: At the beginning of my trip, there is no local CNG vehicle fill station. We would need to purchase filling equipment, and it could not be a slow fill system because there is not enough time - we have about 1/2 hour or so to fill the vehicles between runs. At the midpoint of the run, there is a filling station, but I'll need another option because they aren't open on Saturday or Sunday. We could consider having our own filling equipment at both ends - but it seems like the cost is really going up into the range of not practical.

    Seems like I've got a lot working against me, but I'm just wondering what someone with some CNG fleet experience thinks.... Could it be done cost effectively?

  • #2
    Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

    Sounds like you have already started running the numbers. I would recommend looking at a moderate refueling system at your base. I believe fuelmaker sells cascade systems that can be used with their standard small scale compressors. Perhaps a cascade system with a couple of their small compressors would provide you partial fast-fills, and still be relatively economical. There are also people here that i believe specialize in fueling equipment, and can perhaps develop a custom system for you.

    There is also the added benefit that if you do build a system that more than meets your needs, you could make it public and help the community, all while bringing in some federal tax money, and the profit from the gas sales.
    1997 Factory Crown Victoria w/ extended tanks ~~ Clunkerized!
    2000 Bi-Fuel Expedition --> ~~ Sold ~~ <--


    • #3
      Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

      Where are you? There is likely grants available for conversion and infrastructure, providing you go with public accessibility.


      • #4
        Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

        I saw an airport shuttle that I believe runs outr of Cache Valley sporting CNG stickers. That is around a 75 mile run. I am not sure how many times a day they make it. I can't remember what their name is. If I can get it I will post so you can contact them.


        • #5
          Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

          Also, you could have a MOBILE source of cng like the cascade of cng tanks that is on trailer sold by Tulsa Gas Technologies in Tulsa, OK. See at:

          They offer both a 20 or 40 bottle cascade model . . . so I'm guessing that 20 bottles at 6 gge each is 120 gge for the smaller trailer, or 240 gge for trailer with 40 bottles at 6 gge each.

          CNG is definitely the way to go. Let us know how this turns out.


          • #6
            Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

            I have seen several small scale unitized, fast fill systems advertised for sale from various surplus and machinery companies. Try a google search.

            Get full access to this domain. Easy, seamless transactions. Zero percent financing available.
            Last edited by CanAm; 06-19-2008, 02:56 PM.


            • #7
              Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

              To the person who asked, I am in Minnesota. We have a very weak CNG infrastructure here. There is only one CNG filling station in the state, and while it is in a convenient spot, it is not practical for my business to rely on them due to their hours of service and other issues. Bi-fuel is an absolute must due to the lack of infrastructure here I think now. Any filling equipment failure could shut us down otherwise.

              The trailer idea is interesting. That might be helpful depending on the cost. I would probably need more than one 240 GGE trailer though. 2 or 3 maybe, plus some plan for fueling them up and storing them somewhere convenient. I'll look into it some more.

              New compressors are pretty expensive. I spoke to an Ingersol Rand salesman who ran some numbers and came up with a figure of $200,000 for what I would need. Used might be more reasonable if I could find it.

              The biggest obstacle I have come across appears to be the EPA certified conversion issue. I've got three 2006 model year vehicles with 5.4 V8 Ford engines, all identical in the fuel and emission system. It does not make sense to me that only one of them is certified for conversion due to the trim level and the other two would cost $70,000 to certify. I'm sure this issue has been beaten to death here, but I'll just say I think the viability of this project hinges on it. I can't be getting rid of my nice conversion vans and replacing them with bench seating prison-work-crew transport vans, and I don't like the idea of dropping $70,000 to certify my conversion vans which will have to be replaced every 3-4 years with a new model and new certification.


              • #8
                Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

                Think outside the box for a minute. How many of the certified conversion kits could you sell? The country is starving for kits for various commercial applications right now. Could be a career change in your future. There's also funding from numerous sources for the R&D aspect. Such sources could run the gammut from federal, state, fleet and private. Might be worth a second thought. There's a lot of used equipment on the market. We have station builders here in our midst and the same fleets that need the conversions need fueling for them. (note: that this is the Clean Energy model for success). There are federal mandates about reduction of local, state and federal fuel consumption... This could be opportunity knocking.


                • #9
                  Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

                  Valid point. However, I might mention that as an entrepreneur I realize the tremendous amount of effort required to make a success of any particular endeavor. If you wanted to make any kind of profit selling conversion kits, you would have to put in a whole lot of time knocking on doors, passing out business cards, wrenching on vehicles, solving problems... yada yada yada. My current business is just 10 months old, and growing steadily. The demands on me are pretty high - I'll be up at 4:45am tomorrow to drive 330 miles, then on the phone with customers until 9pm. Get up the next day and do it again. Weekends and holidays are meaningless to me. Jumping to a new project doesn't seem like a good plan for me right now. Could be down the road though.


                  • #10
                    Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

                    A solution for the 5.4L is already in the works. I have a fleet (13) of certified 05/06 E350 bi-fuels that we will be expanding and upgrading soon. We also have several stations worth of used fueling equipment. Three vans is a cakewalk, I am working on two fleets of twenty plus vans, one does about the same mileage as you do.
                    Please PM me your contact info, your trip points start, mid and end in MN and how much you pay per therm for NG at your homebase.
                    Your Friendly Nazi Squirrel Administrator


                    • #11
                      Re: Shuttle Service CNG Viability

                      check out this one for sell


                      • #12
                        Actual sale prices (eBay, PublicSurplus, GovDeals) Dec 2015 through May 2016 (top deals in bold):

                        11 2012 160208 $7500 132K WI 1FDFE4FS0CDA13352 Ford E-450 BAF 3 tanks 14-pass handicapped shuttle
                        16 2011 160317 $6900 157K NJ _________________ Chev ten 14pass shuttle buses available BennoBus South Amboy NJ
                        9 2010 160325 $7777 248K NY 1FBSS3BL0ADA13714 Ford E-350 XL Pass van
                        8 2009 160524 $5900 162K TX 1FDXE45S69DA91701 Ford E-450 shuttle bus

                        8 2009 160409 $1596 200K MO 1FDXE45S49DA22800 Ford E-450 shuttle bus not running
                        8 2009 160409 $1648 200K MO 1FDXE45S29DA22794 Ford E-450 shuttle bus not running
                        8 2009 160409 $2110 200K MO 1FDXE45SX9DA22798 Ford E-450 shuttle bus not running
                        8 2009 160409 $1701 200K MO 1FDXE45S09DA22793 Ford E-450 shuttle bus not running
                        8 2008 160326 $6800 274K CO 1FD4E45S28DB05272 Ford E-450 6.8L V10 BAF 28gge 4 tank
                        11 2007 160104 $ 750 244K RI 1FDXE45S07DB36158 Ford E-450 HD 15pass Exp 01/2028
                        ? 2007 160104 $ 500 263K RI 1FDXE45S77DB36156 Ford E-450 HD 15pass Exp ?
                        ? 2007 160104 $ 500 ?K RI 1FDXE45S37DB36154 Ford E-450 HD 15pass Exp ?
                        11 2007 160104 $ 500 262K RI 1FDXE45S57DB36155 Ford E-450 HD 15pass Exp 03/2027
                        ? 2007 160101 $ 500 260K RI 1FDXE45S?7DB32282 Ford E-450 HD 15pass chair lift

                        4 2005 160505 $2926 185K CO 1FDXE45MX4HB26680 Ford pass airport shuttle
                        3 2003 160505 $1111 223K CO 1FDXE45M02HB76095 Ford pass airport shuttle
                        1 2002 160428 $ 960 41K NV 1FBSS31M22HA81355 Ford E-350 pass van no seats 3000psi