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Rochester buses switch to 20 percent biofuel

Rochester Public Transit buses made an important change this month — the buses are running on cleaner fuel, reducing emissions and saving money while doing so.

The dual fuel benefit was made possible by the 49-bus fleet switching to a 20-percent biodiesel fuel blend, at the recommendation of the American Lung Association .

"Using this higher biodiesel blend will have an immediate effect on the air pollutants these buses emit, reducing particulate matter, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions," Kelly Marczak, regional senior director for clean air at the American Lung Association in Minnesota, said in a news release.

"It also represents another step away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, more sustainable fuels produced here in Minnesota," Marczak said.

The higher percentage biodiesel blend represents a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum diesel, according to the American Lung Association.


For Rochester Public Transit, the decision simply made sense. The public bus line expects to achieve a 2- to 5-cent per gallon savings in fuel costs while using the higher percentage of biofuel.

No change was needed to the buses or fueling infrastructure, so the change did not come with a major investment.

"We just thought all the arguments were in favor of it," Tony Knauer, Rochester Public Transit director, said.

The city's bus fleet will run on the 20-percent biodiesel fuel for the warm-weather months, through September, Knauer said. In colder months, the line will switch back to a 5 percent blend to maintain a safe fuel viscosity.

State law requires public transit lines to use a 10 percent biodiesel blend in warm weather months and a 5 percent blend in winter months. In 2018, that requirement will increase to a 20 percent blend in summer months.

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