Use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles by small urban and rural transit systems


Jeremy Mattson

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

technology - alternative fuels, place - north america, technology - emissions


urban, rural, alternative fuels, hybrid vehicles, emissions, sustainability


A survey was conducted of small urban and rural transit agencies regarding their use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles. Responses were received from 115 transit providers across the country, including 31 that use biodiesel, eight that use E85, 10 that use compressed natural gas (CNG), four that use propane, and 24 that own hybrid-electric vehicles. Larger agencies and those operating in urban areas tend to be more likely to adopt alternatives than smaller, rural providers. Improving public perception, reducing emissions, and reducing operating costs tend to be the greatest motivating factors for adopting these alternatives, in addition to political directives and incentives. Concerns about infrastructure development and costs, vehicle costs, maintenance, and fuel supply are the greatest deterrents to adoption. Those agencies that have adopted alternative fuels or hybrids have been mostly satisfied with their experience, but some problems were identified. An analysis of satisfaction with biodiesel indicates that agencies with a larger fleet size and those that have committed a larger percentage of their fleet to biodiesel have been more satisfied with the fuel. Findings provide useful information to transit operators considering adoption of alternative fuels and hybrids and to policy makers considering policies on alternative fuels and hybrids.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Jeremy Mattson, Small Urban & Rural Transit Centre, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.