- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Lincoln transit system has plans for a third of its bus and van fleet to run on compressed natural gas within two years, saving money and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

StarTran manager Mike Davis told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1hDzMcf ) that five new buses that run on compressed natural gas should arrive and be in service by early August.

StarTran plans to buy eight more compressed natural gas buses and 11 compressed natural gas vans as replacement vehicles, Davis said. Eventually, a third of its 75 vehicles will fuel up on compressed natural gas.

Over the vehicles’ expected 15 years of service, Davis said, StarTran should save about $1.3 million, as lower fuel costs offset the higher price for the vehicles and the initial cost to modify buildings where buses are stored.

“We’ll spend the first six years paying off the costs and the next nine years reaping the savings,” he said.

The vehicles will fill up at a high-capacity station opened recently at Sapp Bros. Travel Center in north Lincoln.

Brandy Johnson of Black Hills Energy says greenhouse gas emissions from compressed natural gas buses are 20 percent to 30 percent cleaner than the most efficient diesel bus.

School districts and transit systems around the country have been switching to compressed natural gas. For example, the Kansas City, Kan., school district has dozens of buses running on compressed natural gas among its fleet of more than 100 vehicles.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com