Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Transportation

Compressed natural gas station opens to all in Tampa

TAMPA

This gas station, tucked behind a Circle K at 50th Street and Madison Avenue, looks pretty much like any other. There are fuel pumps, credit card slots and ticking price gauges. It's what comes out of the pumps that's different. Compressed natural gas, or CNG, is a fuel alternative gaining popularity among trucking companies for its low cost and environmentally friendly status. And now it's accessible to the public, too.

Trillium CNG, in partnership with Dillon Transport and Mosaic, opened the area's first public compressed natural gas station in November.

The companies teamed up to build the station after converting about 100 Dillon Transport trucks to CNG, said Nick Saban, Dillon's terminal leader for Tampa and Mulberry.

The fleet services Mosaic in both cities, hauling more than 500 loads a day of raw materials like sulfuric acid and lime dust.

Converting to CNG will save money and reduce pollution, Saban said.

"From an environmental standpoint, natural gas is domestically produced and we have an abundance of it — over 100 years' worth," Saban said. "From a price standpoint, it's a much more stable fuel than diesel."

Natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, because of its lower carbon content.

Though CNG is measured differently than gasoline and fuel because it's pressurized, the price is equivalent to about $2.19 a gallon, Saban said.

But it requires a specially equipped vehicle to take advantage of the cost savings.

CNG-powered vehicles are still a relatively new concept in the United States. Natural gas powers less than half a million vehicles in the States, said Anddrikk Frazier, regional director of business development for Trillium CNG.

Many of those vehicles are in fleets, which have the ability to fuel at a central location and stay in limited geographic regions, keeping them close to the limited number of CNG stations.

But CNG also is an option for everyday drivers.

Several vehicle manufacturers produce CNG versions of popular cars, including the Honda Civic. Others, like General Motors, plan to release bi-fuel versions that can run on natural gas and gasoline in the coming years.

Some gasoline vehicles can be converted to CNG, though the process costs $5,000 to $20,000, Frazier said.

"People who are conscious of the environment and people who burn a lot of fuel are the ones who will benefit," Frazier said.

• • •

Expecting initial conversion costs to decline and CNG vehicles to increase, Trillium CNG is building more stations. The company plans to open a second Tampa station, at 50th Street and Columbus Avenue, next year.

Government agencies are recognizing the benefits of CNG as well.

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority announced plans this month to become the first transit agency in the state to convert from diesel to CNG.

Construction is under way on a CNG station on 21st Avenue that is expected to be complete by spring. HART expects to have 89 CNG vehicles in service by the end of 2015, including vans and buses.

There's an incentive for other Florida agencies and companies to convert.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will accept applications starting in January for rebates for up to 50 percent of the cost, up to $25,000.

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.

     
Comments
New bus routes, times to start on Sunday in Hillsborough

New bus routes, times to start on Sunday in Hillsborough

TAMPA — More than a dozen bus routes in Hillsborough County will have new times, paths and stops starting Sunday.The changes come almost four months after the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority rolled out an entirely new bus network, scrapp...
Published: 02/19/18
After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

OCALA — In mid-2016, a regional task force that spent almost two years exploring ways to improve safety on a crowded Interstate 75 decided to take a conservative approach: make changes to the highway rather than build or expand other roads. Then Hurr...
Published: 02/18/18
Engineers push back against criticism of bus rapid transit plan

Engineers push back against criticism of bus rapid transit plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Proponents of a bus rapid transit system that would connect St. Petersburg, Tampa and Wesley Chapel pushed back Friday against recent criticism of the proposed plan.The lead engineer told a group of regional leaders that they wanted ...
Published: 02/12/18
Red-light camera challenge gets rough ride at state Supreme Court

Red-light camera challenge gets rough ride at state Supreme Court

TALLAHASSEE — Motorists hoping that the courts will pull the plug on red-light cameras may have hit a roadblock: the Florida Supreme Court.On Wednesday, the court heard arguments in a case that could decide the legality of red-light camera programs a...
Published: 02/07/18
Hillsborough leaders raise questions about bus rapid transit

Hillsborough leaders raise questions about bus rapid transit

TAMPA — Leaders in Hillsborough politics and transportation are speaking up this week about their concerns with Tampa Bay’s latest proposal to bring transit to the region. Bus rapid transit, known as BRT, emerged last month as the lead o...
Published: 02/06/18
Updated: 02/07/18
Shut down Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays? Tampa City Council is skeptical

Shut down Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays? Tampa City Council is skeptical

TAMPA — Shut down Tampa’s iconic Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays? Allow a Gasparilla every weekend, but without the drunken crowds and gaudy pirates? A group of supporters of the "Open Streets" concept pitched the idea Thursday to the Tampa City Counci...
Updated one month ago

She tried to board a flight with her ‘emotional support peacock.’ The airline said no.

Airlines are cracking down on the use of "emotional support animals" — and their case could be strengthened by a woman who tried to bring a peacock onboard a United Airlines flight.First reported by The Jet Set, a travel-focused show, a woman at Newa...
Updated one month ago
Florida among the states with the lowest number of structurally deficient bridges

Florida among the states with the lowest number of structurally deficient bridges

Florida is home to 265 "structurally deficient" bridges, according to a new report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, or ARTBA.The report examined federal data and found that there are 54,259 bridges rated "structurally def...
Updated one month ago
Bus rapid transit service must be fast, frequent, experts say

Bus rapid transit service must be fast, frequent, experts say

For years, the Tampa Bay region has been stuck in a prolonged transit fight: bus vs. rail.The form of transit is beside the point, said Art Guzzetti, vice president of the American Public Transportation Association."That’s not the problem," he said. ...
Updated one month ago
How to navigate downtown Tampa for Saturday’s Gasparilla invasion, NHL festivities

How to navigate downtown Tampa for Saturday’s Gasparilla invasion, NHL festivities

TAMPA — They may be the new kids in town when it comes to Gasparilla, but National Hockey League officials figured out the best advice for anyone coming to the all-star weekend events they have planned just around the corner from the pirate parade.Ge...
Updated one month ago