Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 16
2018 BUS & PARATRANSIT CONFERENCE
he Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) continued building on its commitment
to innovation during 2017, launching
a groundbreaking initiative that gives
paratransit customers more transportation flexibility than ever before.
RideKC Freedom On-Demand, which
began May 1, 2017, allows paratransit
customers to use a smartphone app to
book a trip. Unbanked customers or
those who do not have a smartphone
can simply call the call center and have
the option of using cash to pay for trips.
Paratransit riders can now make
same-day transportation decisions, just
like most other people, without any
barriers. They no longer are required to
schedule a trip 24 hours in advance, nor
do they have to provide a half-hour window to be picked up.
Even more exciting, KCATA demonstrates its good stewardship to taxpayers
because the service costs less than traditional paratransit service. Customers
have taken more than 60,000 Freedom
On-Demand trips since the program
While RideKC Freedom On-Demand
is designed for customers who qualify
for specialized transportation
because they can't ride the bus,
the ride-hailing service is available to everyone. Especially
unique is that a portion of the
fare paid by non-paratransit
riders is returned to KCATA to
reinvest in service for people
KCATA President/Chief Executive Officer Robbie Makinen with
his service dog, Loki, about to board a RideKC Freedom van.
The idea for Freedom OnDemand came out of another pilot effort
giving residents access to jobs, for only
KCATA undertook with the transporta$1.50. KCATA was the first major U.S.
tion network company Bridj, through
public transit agency to partner with
which KCATA offered an app-based
service to summon a ride downtown,
KANSAS CITY CONTINUED ON PAGE 18
Propane Leads the Way for DART's Paratransit Fleet
IN 2014, Delaware Transit
Photo courtesy of ROUSH CleanTech
BY TODD MOUW
Corporation (DART First
State), which operates the
largest self-managed paratransit fleet in the U.S., took
on a two-year pilot program
testing five propane autogas paratransit buses. The
agency chose to pilot two
After a two-year pilot program, DART has purchased a total of
different types of vehicles,
165 dedicated propane autogas paratransit buses.
dedicated (only operating on
propane) and dual fuel (operating on gasoline or propane).
FTA's New Model Bus Testing Program
The program's success led the agency
("Altoona Testing") and is certified for
to purchase a total of 165 dedicated
sale in all 50 states by the California Air
propane autogas shuttles-more than
Resources Board and Environmental Prohalf the entire DART paratransit fleet.
Each of these vehicles is built on the
"Our first five propane-fueled buses
Ford E-450 chassis with 6.8L V10 engine
collectively traveled 450,000 miles with
and equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech
no fuel system-related failures and saved
dedicated propane autogas fuel system.
$15,000 in fuel costs alone," said John
This propane vehicle has completed
T. Sisson, DART First State chief execu-
tive officer. "That, combined with the
reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,
made it an easy decision to expand the
propane program with our new private
fuel stations and expansion of the propane fleet."
Kept in operation for five years, each
DART paratransit bus travels between
35,000 and 40,000 miles annually. Every
paratransit bus consumes approximately
7,275 gallons of propane autogas annually, saving approximately 6,250 gallons
The propane autogas paratransit
buses each emit 91,000 fewer pounds of
carbon dioxide emissions over their lifetimes compared to the agency's gasoline
models-or 15 million pounds for the
entire propane fleet.
Propane autogas is a low-carbon fuel
that reduces greenhouse gases by up to
25 percent, with 60 percent less carbon
monoxide and fewer particulate emissions compared with gasoline.
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To track costs, DART First State runs a
weekly report based on the number of
vehicles in service, their total mileage
and gallons of propane autogas used.
Based on the current price of propane
autogas and gasoline, the agency then
calculates its weekly savings.
In March 2018, savings averaged $76
per bus per week. The agency is saving
approximately $11,000 per week by
operating a propane autogas paratransit
bus fleet, equaling more than $500,000
annually in fuel expenses alone.
DART First State has calculated a
36 percent cost per mile fuel savings,
with 19 cents for its propane shuttles
compared with 30 cents for its gasoline
shuttles. Historically, propane autogas
costs 40 percent less than gasoline and
up to 50 percent less than diesel.
The system also has experienced
maintenance savings due to the fuel's
clean-burning properties. "We've seen a
significant reduction in engine-related
problems. Overall performance of the
vehicles is greater and we have
experienced far fewer enginerelated breakdowns," said Richard Walters, fleet and contract
Essential to daily operations, the agency installed
private fueling infrastructure.
DART First State worked with
Sharp Energy, a local propane
provider, to install two lowcost refill stations at different,
Propane autogas fueling
infrastructure costs less than
any other transportation
energy source-conventional or
alternative. Sharp Energy provides the propane for the DART
paratransit buses along with
technical and maintenance
support for the vehicles and
DART First State is realizing
the economic and environmental savings that come with
adopting propane autogas, and
the agency expects that momentum to continue as it plans to
convert its entire paratransit fleet
to propane autogas by 2020.
Photo courtesy Kansas City STAR.
'RideKC Freedom On-Demand'
Transforming Paratransit Delivery
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9
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