Transit service makes efforts to be environmentally friendly

Sarah Colvin

PARTA is concerned about air quality and is determined to improve it.

About a year ago, PARTA switched from using mineral-based conventional oils to using bio-based lubricants in its buses, said Brian Trautman, PARTA director of operations, maintenance and facilities.

PARTA still uses diesel fuel, but it now adds a bio-based product to the diesel fuel as a conditioner.

Bio-based lubricant improves fuel economy, reduces exhaust emission, bio-degrades and extends oil changes and the life of the engine.

“You don’t see a lot of our buses blowing black smoke now,” Trautman said.

“This bio-based lubricant we’re running in the buses is a renewable product and is grown in Portage County, manufactured in Portage County and put into the buses in Portage County,” Trautman said. “So the concept of keeping it local and providing is working real well.”

In the world economy, bio-based products are not being promoted the way they should because the world economy is an oil-based economy, he said.

Michigan uses bio-based lubricants, and Trautman said he hopes other states, including Ohio, will begin to use them also.

“We wanted to start here in Portage County and show people what it really does,” said Frank Hairston, PARTA director of marketing and customer service.

Bio-power is used in addition to the bio-based lubricants used in the buses. Trautman said the bio-based lubricant restores the lubrication diesel engines lost when the federal government took sulfur out of diesel fuel in 1999.

He said sulfur was the property in diesel fuel that lubricated the engine, so removing the sulfur caused major engine wear. Some of the side effects were black soot, bad smell and smoke.

According to a PARTA article written by Renewable Lubricants, Inc., bio-power has also increased the buses’ fuel efficiency by about a mile per gallon on average for the fleet of 72 buses. It could save PARTA $50,000 on fuel costs this year.

“We run well over a million miles a year, so that’s a big savings for us,” Trautman said.

Contact buildings, grounds and transportation reporter Sarah Colvin at [email protected].

Benefits of bio-based lubricants

• Bio-materials are produced by farmers in North America, so they help support our economy.

• Bio-based lubricants are made from environmentally friendly ingredients including soybean, corn, canola and sunflower oils.

Source: Renewable Lubricants, Inc. Web site: