TriMet is going with the biodiesel. There was much rejoicing.
Well, I was thrilled. When I got into the guts of the press release, though, the achievement didn't seem so major.
Starting this month, TriMet is going to start using a biodiesel fuel called "B5". B5 has come down in price so that it's now economical to use. They're piloting it in 75 buses before using it in the whole fleet – of LIFT buses.
TriMet LIFT is the paratransit program, of course. If it works out in the 75 buses then they'll expand B5 use to the entire fleet – of LIFT buses. There are 210 of those. The press release makes no mention of when (or even if) B5 is to be used in the entire fleet, which would seem to me to make more of a difference.
B5 is rendered from used commercial cooking oils, and is a mixture of petroleum fuel and biodiesel fuel. 95% petroleum to . . . 5% bio.
So, TriMet is using biodiesel . . . plus! The biodiesel is being rendered from local producers (such as Kettle Foods) . . . plus! In a minority fraction of the fleet . . . minus. And only 5% of the fuel is actually biodiesel . . . minus. The release goes on to say that if the biodiesel LIFT bus test is successful they'd evaluate using it in the 611-unit main fleet.
I'd like to see them using more biodiesel and ramping it up a little bit faster. One of our economical problems is dependence on foreign petroleum, and this all seems a bit . . . casual. Maybe I just don't get it. I want to be impressed by this but somehow I just don't feel all that impressed by it.