Colonial Parking Adopts “Propane Autogas’; Aims for 100% Fleetwide “Alt Fuels’


Colonial Parking Adopts “Propane Autogas’; Aims for 100% Fleetwide “Alt Fuels’

Increased operating efficiency and decreased emissions are two of the many benefits cited by an off-airport parking company operating buses fueled with “propane autogas.”

Colonial Airport Parking runs around the clock, transporting travelers to and from Philadelphia International Airport. Since turning to propane autogas — the term used for propane when used as an on-road transportation fuel — the thriving business has cut fuel costs and vehicle emissions.

“By choosing propane, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint, improved our operating efficiency, better served our customers, and prevented local residents from breathing in a lot of unnecessary pollution,” said John Groden, Colonial Operations Manager.

Increasing Propane Autogas Fleet

After researching various types of conventional and alternative fuels, Colonial elected to adopt propane autogas. The company purchased two Ford E-450 shuttle buses, each equipped with CleanTech fuel system technology. Three years later, the company now operates eight state-of-the-art propane autogas shuttles.

The buses’ dedicated CleanTech fuel system uses propane liquid injection, which “helps eliminate cold-start issues, while obtaining the same horsepower and torque,” said Todd Mouw, VP of Sales and Marketing for Roush CleanTech. “Propane is a versatile fuel, ideal for industries such as airport transportation and parking that demand consistently high performance day in and day out.”

The shuttle buses, powered by Ford 6.8-liter V10 engines, provide seating for up to 14 passengers and their luggage.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have certified these fuel systems used in propane autogas shuttle buses.

The company will be replacing its two remaining gasoline buses next year, making the fleet 100% propane-fueled.

Saving on Fuel and Maintenance Costs

Since implementing the alternatively fueled shuttle buses, Colonial Airport Parking has cut fuel costs by 32%. On average, propane autogas costs 30% to 40% less than gasoline. It’s designed to burn cleaner in engines than gasoline and diesel, which results in reduced maintenance costs and less wear and tear on the engine and components.

Currently, the company pays about 30% less per gallon for their propane autogas as compared with gasoline.

The company also has reduced bus maintenance costs by 28.4%. With their near-constant use, the company’s 3-year-old shuttles “already have 140,000 miles on them, and have had no issues other than routine maintenance,” Groden said.

“Our mechanic is astonished at how clean the oil is when our propane vehicles are due for service,” he added, “and our drivers say that the propane vehicles function better than our gasoline vehicles, especially during cold winter months.”

The airport shuttle operation applied for a grant through the State of Pennsylvania, which covered half of the incremental cost of the shuttles, although according to Groden, even without the funding, the propane systems would have paid for themselves very quickly.

Currently, the company pays about 30% less per gallon for their propane autogas as compared with gasoline.

Reducing Carbon Footprint

By transitioning its fleet to propane autogas, Colonial Airport Parking also is helping the environment and reducing its carbon footprint. The fleet of propane autogas Ford E-450 shuttle buses will emit 730,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over the lifetime of the vehicles.

Propane autogas is a low-carbon fuel that reduces greenhouse gases by up to 25%, carbon monoxide by up to 60%, and nitrogen oxide by 20%, and virtually eliminates particulate matter when compared with conventional fuels. Propane autogas is an approved alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act, and non-toxic propane does not harm soil or groundwater.


Fueling and Supply

To keep as many parking spaces as possible for customers, Colonial fuels its shuttle buses off-site. While thousands of propane stations are located around the nation, many propane fleets chose to install a propane station on-site. Installing a propane station costs less than developing infrastructure for any other fuel, conventional or alternative.

Because propane autogas is domestically produced, the company can tap into an abundant supply. More than 90% is produced in the U.S., with an additional 7% from Canada.

Propane autogas is the leading alternative fuel in the U.S. and the third most commonly used vehicle fuel, following gasoline and diesel.

Colonial Airport Parking is seeing the bottom-line benefits by adopting propane autogas shuttle buses for their operation.

John Groden, Colonial Airport Parking Operations Manager, can be contacted at

Todd Mouw, VP of Sales and Marketing for Roush CleanTech, can be reached at

Article contributed by:
John Groden and Todd Mouw
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