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propane for home

Peel Region TransHelp’s Experience

Ivey

Background:

The Peel Region of Ontario has a population of 1.1 million covering 480 square miles.  It includes the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, and is one of Canada’s fastest growing communities.  TransHelp was founded in 1981 in order to provide paratransit service to individuals unable to use conventional transit, such as those with a physical disability or confined to a wheelchair.  Today, TransHelp’s vehicle fleet consists of 40 buses: 3 with 7.5 litre engines, 9 with 6.8 litre engines and 28 with 5.4 litre engines, all of which use the Ford E-350 chassis.  This fleet makes over 220,000 one way trips annually to/from residences, hospitals, therapy centres, shopping, etc., travelling on a combination of major highways, urban streets, and rural roads.  Each vehicle serves for 7 years in front line service, followed by 3 years of backup service, and has a typical life span of between 375,000 and 425,000 km.

TransHelp vehicles spend much of their time idling in emissions-sensitive areas, such as outside hospitals.  The vehicles’ engines have to be left running to keep the interior warm in winter and cool in summer, but the emissions must not adversely effect the health of those on board or in the surrounding area.  TransHelp currently consumes 636,000 litres of propane annually, making fuel a significant expense.  Consequently, it is important for TransHelp to minimize its fuel costs in order to allow funds to be used for other community programs.  To address these particular needs, TransHelp adopted the use of propane to fuel its vehicles in the early 1980s.  However, difficulties were experienced with this technology, particularly on V-10 engines, as poor performance and backfires were prevalent.  The increased maintenance necessary was another downside to the propane technology initially adopted by TransHelp.

Solution:

TransHelp learned of the SFI Technologies Inc. (“SFI”) SEQUIN System through its inventor, and agreed to a trial in the hopes the problems being experienced with propane use could be solved.  SFI’s SEQUIN System is designed and programmed specifically to support and leverage Original Equipment Manufacturer’s on-board diagnostic technology.  The SEQUIN technology allows seamless transitioning between gasoline and propane under all conditions without any operator involvement in fuel selection.  The technology is designed to favour propane as the fuel of choice and automatically switches between propane and gasoline based on the ideal conditions at the time of operation.  Further, the technology has received certification from the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. and the Canadian Standards Association. 

Benefits Realized:

The adoption of the SEQUIN System has proven to be very successful for TransHelp.  It has allowed the use of propane to be continued, meaning that vehicle emissions are greatly reduced relative to gasoline or diesel fuelled vehicles.  This has allowed TransHelp to continue to deliver a high level of service to its customers while ensuring health and safety remain front of mind.  Through its Green Tree Project, and the associated logo displayed on each of its vehicles, TransHelp has increased the visibility of environmentally friendly fuels.  This shows that the concerns of the Peel Regions citizens remain a priority for TransHelp.

Further to the environmental benefits, TransHelp has been able to realize a fuel savings of 15-20% over gasoline (dependant on fuel price), and receives an additional federal transit rebate of 15% for the conversion cost.  Mr. George Doughty, head mechanic for the fleet, says TransHelp’s drivers do not even realize when the vehicle switches from running on gasoline to running on propane.  This is because the vehicle’s performance is not compromised when it makes the switch.  Furthermore, the amount of maintenance required on each vehicle has also been reduced with the SEQUIN System, increasing their availability to be out on the road and helping the community.