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Local News

Cherokee County Unveils State's First Propane-Powered Public Transit Buses

Cherokee County will put the first propane-powered public transit buses in the state of Georgia in service next week following a ribbon cutting held Tuesday at the Cherokee County Administrative Offices.

Cherokee Area Transportation Service (CATS) purchased three propane-powered buses from Coach and Equipment Bus Sales, Inc. in February to replace aging buses in the fleet. The cost for all three totaled $307,553 with $261,420 paid for with a Federal Transportation Authority grant and $46,132 from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). Two have been received, and the county is awaiting delivery of the third bus.

The new vehicles will replace three aging buses currently in the fleet that provide service for the Fixed Route Service by CATS. The Fixed Route Service offers those in need of transportation assistance a regularly scheduled route for a small fee. CATS also provides a Demand Response Service where residents can schedule their rides for things like doctor’s appointments.

“We are excited to bring in three new vehicles that use a cleaner fuel source and have expected lower maintenance costs,” said Community Services Agency Director Bryan Reynolds. “With the purchase, we were able to secure increased federal transportation support and a Federal Transit Authority fuel subsidy, saving our taxpayers money.”

In partnership with the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, the county unveiled two of the three new buses prior to the Board of Commissioners’ work session, inviting representatives from Roush Clean Tech and the Propane Education and Research Council.

Roush Clean Tech’s Gen 5 propane system was integrated with the Ford 7.3 liter engine. It’s more compact, cleaner and more efficient.

“ROUSH CleanTech’s advanced propane autogas technology is helping states like Georgia tackle their air quality problems and budget challenges by operating economical, emissions-reducing buses,” said Todd Mouw, executive vice president of sales for ROUSH CleanTech.

Steve Whaley, director of autogas business development for the Propane Education & Research Council, talked about the economic and environmental benefits of propane autogas.

Propane autogas vehicles have the lowest total cost-of-ownership due to reduced fuel costs and lower maintenance costs, and their power is comparable to gasoline-fueled vehicles. According to a 2020 survey of fleet end users, respondents identified reduced emissions as one of the primary advantages of propane autogas vehicles with 87 percent reporting equal or better performance compared to diesel and gasoline. Additionally, 90 percent of orders for propane autogas vehicles in 2020 were for transit vehicles, delivery vehicles and school buses.

"We're proud to add Cherokee County to the growing list of paratransit fleets across this country that are operating with propane autogas,” Whaley said. “Cherokee County is prioritizing providing a safe, clean ride for their community while lowering their operating costs. It’s a win for environmental sustainability and a win for their financial sustainability.”

There are advertising opportunities on the three new vehicles with various size and duration options available. The county has partnered with Tri-State Communications to handle sales and design. For more information, contact Bill West at bill@wljaradio.com.

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