UCAP seeks grant for transit buses fueled with propane

MARSHALL — A regional public transit program is hoping to bring propane-fueled buses, as well as a fueling station, to the Marshall area.

On Tuesday, members of the Lyon County Board gave their support for United Community Action Partnership to apply for grant funding for the buses.

“I was contacted by UCAP (United Community Action Partnership) that they are applying for a grant for the purchase of a propane-fueled bus, and they are looking for a letter of support,” said Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg.

UCAP operates Community Transit, a public transit service with buses that serve eight counties in southwest Minnesota.

According to agenda packet materials for Tuesday’s county board meeting, UCAP is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to apply for a federal Low- or No-Emission Grant. The grant would help UCAP obtain six lower-emission propane buses and a fueling station at the Marshall transit facility.

County commissioners were supportive of UCAP applying for a grant, but they did raise some questions as they discussed the proposal for the new buses. Commissioner Paul Graupmann questioned why UCAP was seeking to buy new buses.

“I don’t understand. There are conversion kits to change a gasoline engine to a propane engine,” Graupmann said.

In the past, Schwan’s had converted its fleet of vehicles from using gasoline to propane, he said.

It might not have been possible to convert existing transit buses to use propane, said Commissioner Rick Anderson.

“Probably the biggest problem was going to be, where are they going to mount the fuel tank for the propane on a bus?” Anderson said. “On the Schwan’s trucks, if I remember right, they were right behind the cab.”

“My question is, do they feel this is going to be more economical?” asked Commissioner Gary Crowley.

“It’ll meet the green standard,” Anderson said.

Graupmann said he wouldn’t vote against a letter of support for the grant application, but he thought there might be other ways for the community to reduce emissions than by replacing functional buses.

“To me, this doesn’t seem like the best use of dedicated dollars,” he said.

Commissioners voted to write a letter of support for UCAP and MnDOT’s grant application for the propane-fueled buses.


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