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The City of La Porte Lowers Emissions with Propane Fueled Buses


When environmental news makes headlines, it is usually about a new national level initiative or international partnership, but all across the country cities and towns are taking up the challenge of protecting our home for generations to come. La Porte is one of the Region’s environmental champions. The city is taking numerous steps to improving its environmental footprint, perhaps most notably, by transitioning to propane fueled buses.

When Director Tom MacLennan took over La Porte’s Department of Transportation, or “TransPorte,” he noticed that they had federal grants and programs that the department had not taken advantage of, including subsidies for propane fueled public transportation. When it comes to green energy, solar and wind are usually the stars of the show, but propane is both green and practical. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, propane has both lower carbon content and lower cost compared to traditional gas and diesel. For a city looking to decrease its carbon footprint, it proved a fantastic place to start.

“About 10 years ago, a certain amount of money was put aside for alternative fuel vehicles,” said Director MacLennan. “When I came on, it hadn’t been used because the technology wasn’t there. But we investigated and found that we could do propane fairly cheaply, and in 2013 we acquired two propane vehicles.”

Those two buses quickly demonstrated the value of propane buses. They run cleaner, producing less exhaust and emissions, cost less to fill, all while maintaining the performance and comfort riders expect. As the years passed, the fleet grew, and this year La Porte’s buses are now all propane powered.

LaPorte-Buses-03

“This year we acquired two more propane vehicles,” said MacLennan. “So now we have 7 propane vehicles, and all of our revenue fleet runs on propane.”

While the biggest benefit to switching to propane is lower emissions, which helps reduce pollution, it’s not the most visible or immediate one. La Porte’s residents are benefiting in a number of more visible and direct ways, which according to MacLennan are part of why propane vehicles are increasingly popular.

“We were running unleaded, and compared to that there’s so little visible exhaust,” said MacLennan. “A lot of school corporations are moving to propane school buses, and if you think of a parking lot full of traditional school buses then you’ve got all these little kids running around in all this sooty smoke. With propane, you don’t get any of that. It’s got all the power, but doesn’t have the pollution.”

TransPorte is also spending 60 cents a gallon less for propane fuel than they would be for unleaded. With an additional government grant for the purchase of propane, it has reduced the TransPorte’s fuel bill this year from over $40,000 to less than $10,000. That means the federal programs are helping save La Porte resident’s local tax dollars.

The success of the program is apparent, and not just in savings and emissions. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Propane Council both recognized TransPorte’s efforts with awards. The Propane Council award is particularly special, as only three fleets across the country receive one each year. La Porte is not content to stop there, solar fields, hiking trails, and propane vehicles are all going to be built, expanded, or improved soon.

“The city is focused more and more on building a sustainable infrastructure,” said MacLennan. “And of course, one that is also kind to the planet.”

To learn more about TransPorte, visit www.cityoflaporte.com/transporte.

City of La Porte
La Porte, IN 46350
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