New station could become fuelling hub

With a fuel station to accompany a fleet of new compressed natural gas buses, the Regional District of Nanaimo maintenance garage could become a refuelling hub.

The regional district board approved a licence of occupation agreement with B.C. Transit last October, which saw the construction of the station at the Hammond Bay Road facility at the cost of $2 million, and the potential exists for fuelling similar vehicles.

Dennis Trudeau, regional district general manager of transportation and solid waste services, said buses and other compressed natural gas-fuelled vehicles could use the facility, something echoed by B.C. Transit president and CEO Manuel Achadinha.

“We’re looking at this as a fuelling station opportunity as the need for CNG in this community grows and this facility will be available to those other users,” Achadinha said. “For example, if other municipalities around the Regional District of Nanaimo, a lot of their public works vehicles, if they converted to CNG, we would look at an opportunity to use this as the fuelling station.”

The station is expected to be operational sometime this week. Trudeau said the potential to fuel other fleets is good not only for transit but also for the community.

“If there are other fleets, maybe the garbage trucks, some other type of long-haul buses, if they went to CNG, we’d be able to fuel them here as well,” said Trudeau.

The regional district and B.C. Transit unveiled the new compressed natural gas buses on Friday and among the benefits are quieter engines, fewer emissions and lower fuel pricing.

Trudeau explained that the savings in fuel is related to the reduced cost of compressed natural gas compared to diesel.

“Currently, it’s about 10 per cent cheaper. With the harmonization of the CNG cost, we expect that to be 10 to 30 per cent cheaper,” Trudeau said.

“Our fuel bill is well over $1 million so those savings are quite significant, in the order of over $100,000 up to $300,000 per year, which is significant for our service, so this makes this more efficient in the future.”

The regional district is the first B.C. Transit community to utilize compressed natural gas buses and a total of 25 buses will roll out over the spring, as they pass inspection.

Trudeau estimates that some of the buses could be in service in the next 10 days.

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