Limousine Operators Explore Options to Green Their Businesses

Posted on March 1, 2009

JOSEPH BRUNETTO, vice president of fleet and technology for MTC Limousine & Corporate Coach, Inc., in Bedford Hills, N.Y., loves exploring green fleet options. Whether its testing out a Mercedes Benz R320 BlueTEC or a Krystal Hybrid mini coach, Brunetto always looks into possibilities for buying vehicles.

There aren’t many options on the market yet for green buses, Brunetto says. The motorcoaches in the MTC fleet are not older than the 2006 model year, and Brunetto is looking at product options on post-2007 models offered by Motor Coach Industries, such as a diesel engine scrubbing system, which collects and removes soot from the engine. He’s looking forward to test driving the Krystal Hybrid, an electric/diesel hybrid bus. One of the positive features is that the Krystal bus can idle and run air conditioning in hot summer months while still complying with no-idle policies, he says.

MTC buys biodiesel for its mini-coaches and motorcoaches at different levels, including B2, B5, and B10 formulas. Two years ago, Brunetto attended a seminar put on by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority on using ethanol and biofuels in fleet vehicles. One of the practices he’s implemented since then has been integrating biodiesel into vehicles at different levels during varying weather conditions. As the weather gets warmer, more biofuel can be used in the bus. “We’ve integrated biodiesel into the fleet,” he says, “and it depends on the time of the year when diesel fuels become thick.”

Like MTC Limousine, Olympus Worldwide Chauffeured Services, based in Atlanta, has been active in the Limousine Environmental Action Partnership. LEAP executive director Pat Charla has been guiding Olympus president Johan DeLeeuw, on building a solid green program to meet corporate client requests, and in conducting green office procedures such as converting paper documents over to digital formats and reducing paper usage by more than 65%.

Winning over a large hotel account from a company promoting green initiatives was an important reason for becoming active in LEAP, DeLeeuw says. While there’s less corporate focus now on green programs during the recession, Olympus is still reporting emission reductions to sustainability officers on a regular basis, he says.

While Olympus doesn’t own any buses, the company can farm out bus reservations to local affiliate partners. Buses are used regularly to fulfill transportation requests for a commercial property client in Atlanta, moving employees to offsite parking locations, DeLeeuw says. “We’re able to sell a lot of bus service,” he says, “and the profit is higher when using outside operators.”

The buses aren’t powered by biodiesel or other green fueling options, yet they’re still an important part of Olympus’ green program since they move 55 people in one bus instead of in 55 cars, he says. “Cost per passenger is also better,” he says. “Cost is a big factor in this economy, as is safety and convenience.”

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