Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

Report Published: Use of Alternative Fuels and Hybrid Vehicles by Small Urban and Rural Transit Systems

A new report published by SURTC studies the use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles by transit systems in small urban and rural areas. Transit agencies of all sizes across the country have been or are considering using alternative fuels or hybrid-electric vehicles. Smaller agencies may face greater difficulties in transitioning to alternative fuels or hybrids due to infrastructure costs, reliability and maintenance issues, or other concerns.

To better understand the problems and benefits with using biodiesel, E85, propane, natural gas, and hybrid vehicles in smaller communities, a survey of 115 small urban and rural transit agencies was conducted. This study described the use of alternative fuels and hybrids by these transit providers; identified motivating factors and deterrents for adoption; described the experience of transit agencies that have adopted these alternatives, including costs, fuel economy, maintenance, reliability, and overall satisfaction; and examined differences between those agencies that use these alternatives and those that do not, as well as difference between rural and small urban areas.

Larger agencies and those operating in urban areas tend to be more likely to adopt alternatives than smaller, rural providers. Improving public perception, reducing emissions, and reducing operating costs tend to be the greatest motivating factors for adoption, while concerns about infrastructure and vehicle costs, maintenance, and fuel supply are the greatest deterrents. Those agencies that have adopted alternative fuels or hybrids have been mostly satisfied, but some problems were identified. Findings provide useful information to policy makers as well as transit operators considering adoption of alternative fuels and hybrids.

For more information, contact Jeremy Mattson at The publication can be downloaded at the following link: Use of Alternative Fuels and Hybrid Vehicles by Small Urban and Rural Transit Systems

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