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Amtran happy with CNG buses

In the early 1990s, drivers at Amtran tried out a compressed natural gas demonstration bus and found it struggled up hills and lagged when pulling into traffic, according to Amtran General Manager Eric Wolf.

“It didn’t have the pickup or the power,” Wolf told his board on Wednesday.

Because there are a few drivers from those days still employed at Amtran, there was concern prior to the deliver of the first six of those buses in mid-June about the new CNG buses that will soon make up the bulk of the authority’s fleet, Wolf said.

Those concerns vanished after drivers got to try the new CNGs, Wolf said.

They accelerate well, climb hills with no problem and handle “great,” he said.

“We’re good,” Wolf said after Wednesday’s meeting, summing up the typical driver’s reaction.

The CNGs perform just as well as the diesels and diesel hybrids that make up the rest of the fleet, he said.

Amtran expects to receive 10 more CNGs in October, then seven more in 2021.

Grants from PennDOT and the Federal Transit Administration are paying for the buses.

The infusion of CNGs comes from a PennDOT initiative designed to provide a market for natural gas produced in Pennsylvania.

That initiative included funds for fueling stations for transit operators throughout Pennsylvania, coupled with funding for buses that use CNG as fuel.

In other matters, Amtran has a new occupant — Revival Fitness — for its Battery Barn rental property on Fifth Avenue, but it’s looking to fill vacancies in the two suites of the Trolleyworks building nearby.

There is a “pretty solid” prospect for the smaller of the suites that is expected to take possession in October, Wolf said.

It’s a realty company, according to information from a recent meeting.

Amtran is working with the Blair County Chamber of Commerce to market the larger suite, he said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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