Guidebook for Evaluating, Selecting, and Implementing Fuel Choices for Transit Bus Operations

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, planning - safety/accidents, mode - bus


Alternate fuels, Biodiesel fuels, Case studies, Compressed natural gas, Cost models, Costs, Diesel engines, Diesel fuels, Electric vehicles, Ethanol, Fuel availability, Fuel cells, Fuel costs, Fuel systems, Fueling systems, Fuels, Guidelines, Hybrid vehicles, Implementation, Liquefied natural gas, Liquefied petroleum gas, Maintenance facilities, Market share, Methanol, Safety, Spreadsheets, Supply, Technological development, Technology, Transit buses, Vehicle performance


This guidebook and its accompanying cost-model spreadsheet (FuelCost 1.0) will be of interest to transit managers, policymakers, operations and maintenance professionals, and others considering the deployment of, or conversion to, alternative fuel buses. They are intended for individuals who, while being quite knowledgeable about the transit industry, may not be familiar with alternative fuels and implementation issues. The guidebook and FuelCost 1.0 provide tools to simplify the process of developing an alternative fuel strategy by clearly identifying the issues, and the costs and benefits associated with the conversion to various available alternative fuel technologies. The guidebook starts with a review of current and expected developments in diesel engine technology and emission performance, as diesel represents the baseline for evaluating the performance and cost of alternative fuels. For each of the five most commonly used alternative fuels, including compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), methanol, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), information is provided concerning engine and vehicle technology, vehicle performance, fueling station design, maintenance facility modifications, safety considerations, and fuel availability and cost. Key issues and prospects are provided for other important alternative fuel technologies as well, including hybrid electric, battery electric, fuel cell, and biodiesel. Comparative information illustrating the current market status of each alternative fuel, including market share and trends, is also provided. Case studies of three transit agencies that are successfully converting to alternative fuels -- Sun Metro, El Paso, Texas (LNG); Sacramento Regional Transit District (mild-climate CNG); and greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (cold-climate CNG) -- are also included. Finally, the guidebook summarizes available fuel options, and issues to consider in evaluating fuels and vehicle technologies.


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