Winnipeg to fuel 40 new buses on biodiesel blend

By Erin Voegele | June 06, 2011

The public works committee in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, has voted to approve the purchase of 40 new diesel buses, which will be put into service by the city’s transit department. According to Tony Dreolini, manager of plant and equipment at the City of Winnipeg Transit Department, the buses will be standard diesels. Although the department considered the purchase of diesel-electric hybrids, they ultimately proved less fuel efficient than expected and were unreliable in winter months.

The city generally purchases approximately 30 new buses each year. Dreolini said this year’s larger order can be attributed to recent growth in ridership and the opening of a new transit corridor within the city.

Even though the city has chosen to hold off on purchasing hybrid buses for the time being, the standard diesel buses operated by the Winnipeg Transit Department are fueled with a blend of biodiesel, increasing their sustainability. According to Dreolini, the Manitoba government enacted a 2 percent biodiesel mandate in 2009. “All the diesel sold in the province [has] an average of 2 percent biodiesel by volume,” he said. “On an annual basis, there is some process where they go through and evaluate all the diesel sold in the province, but at the end of the year the average mix of biodiesel has got to be 2 percent. From what I understand from our suppliers, they do lower the blend in the winter, and they raise the blend in the summer.”

Dreolini says the transit department does not seek out certain blends of biodiesel to fuel its buses. Rather, the department uses whatever blend is provided by suppliers. While some in Canada have questioned whether or not they will experience engine issues with Canada’s federal 2 percent biodiesel standard when it comes into force on July 1, the Winnipeg Transit Department has been using biodiesel-blended fuel in its buses for well over a year, and Dreolini said no operational problems have been experienced to date. “It’s gone smoothly, because we haven’t really noticed any difference,” he said. “I think that’s always good when you are running on a different fuel.”


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