RTA’s CNG bus still not running

“It’s reached the engineering level”

By Toni Todd

It’s been called an expensive brick. The county’s compressed natural gas (CNG) bus remains idle as experts work to solve the mystery of the shiny new ride that just won’t go.

“It’s reached the engineering level with Cummins,” said J. P. Frymoyer, general manager at Alpine Express, during the Gunnison Valley Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) October meeting. Cummins is the manufacturer of the bus.

“They realize they have a bus out there, a very expensive bus, that’s not running on the fuel it’s designed for,” said Frymoyer.

That fuel was originally thought to be the problem. But after two rounds of testing and recognition that other county CNG vehicles are running fine on it, fingers are now pointed back at the bus.

Frymoyer said Cummins calibrated the bus to run on the fuel used in Glenwood Springs, and assumed a similar mountain environment.

“The Gunnison blend is richer,” said RTA executive director Scott Truex, “with a higher concentration of methane. It’s not bad fuel. It’s just different fuel.”

Frymoyer suggested Cummins should have calibrated the bus here, rather than assuming all things equal between here and Glenwood Springs. Now, they’ll have to calibrate after the fact. “We’re going to be their guinea pigs,” he said.

With that, Frymoyer’s not worried. “Everyone on the whole team, including Cummins, wants to make it work.”

Cummins engineers are expected to visit the valley this week to work on the bus and Gunnison officials are hopeful they can get it running. “We are led to believe that Cummins will do whatever is necessary, within their means, to resolve this issue,” added Frymoyer in an email updating Truex on the situation. Truex, in turn, shared that email with the Crested Butte News.

Truex said the RTA is counting on the bus as a necessary member of its fleet this winter.

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