September 12th, 2019 – Asheville, NC – Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) has the only hospital fleet in the nation designated as a general mass transit provider, which serves Spartanburg County. In 2013, SRHS began looking for an alternative fuel option for their fleets to help their region meet South Carolina emissions criteria. SRHS Director of Transportation Services, Jimmy Riley says, “The hospital had, from the president down, been looking at several different emissions reducing programs for our fleets, and autogas came out as the fuel of choice.”
SRHS started working with Alliance AutoGas (AAG) in March of 2013. The hospital chose to convert cutaway (wheelchair equipped bus) and courier vehicles first. AAG technicians performed the conversions on-site in one bay of the hospital’s existing garage, and trained SRHS fleet technicians to perform any future maintenance. AAG also installed the necessary tanks and fueling infrastructure in 2014 so that the fleet was operational. On-site refueling includes large capacity fuel storage tanks equipped with a pump, meter, and one or more dispensers. This is a great option for growing fleets since the same fuel pump and motor can be used to refuel vehicles with no electrical or site upgrades as the fleet expands. Jimmy Riley says, “We’ve had super service from AAG. Anything we need, they help. Any minor maintenance incident during the installations brought out AAG techs the same day!”
One major bonus of using an alternative fuel for their vehicles is that autogas and the refueling process are independent of electricity. This system allows SRHS to have an alternative fuel supply in the event of a disaster. In 2018, the hospital fleet provided emergency transport during Hurricane Florence. SRHS sent a bus to Myrtle Beach to assist with patient evacuation as well as two ambulances to Horry County to assist with 911 calls. Riley says, “Autogas is a very reliable fuel. We have never had a vehicle breakdown as a result of using this fuel which is important considering our success as a fleet system depends on reliably and efficiently transporting people to medical and other services they need.”
AAG partners are looking forward to seeing more healthcare systems follow the progressive example set by SRHS. “SRHS has an outstanding team that is committed to serving the community of Spartanburg and the surrounding area. The staff at SRHS is great to work with in regards to their autogas program” says Happy Fox, Alternative Fuel Consultant for Alliance Autogas. “Our autogas program secures source of fuel for their fleet during times of emergencies. SRHS has traveled in other parts of South Carolina to provide transit service to those needing to be transferred away from the areas affected by an emergency.” SRHS has plans to convert each new vehicle acquired. Riley says, “It’s a win-win for us due to reduced emissions coupled with financial savings and on-site fueling convenience.”
Want to learn more about why fleets should consider making the switch to becoming an alternative fuel fleet? Click here!