Richard Asche flew frequently as a naval officer. When he needed to get from the naval base in Ogden, Utah to Salt Lake City Airport, he’d call Key Limousine Service for a $6 ride. After he relocated to the naval base in Bremerton, he was surprised to have few transportation options to the airport.
“My wife had to take me to the airport, which she didn’t like very much,” he said.
Asche saw a need for reliable direct shuttle transportation service between Kitsap County and Sea-Tac Airport. After completing paperwork and the permitting process, in 1979, the Bremerton Kitsap Airporter was born. Asche started Bremerton Kitsap Airporter with three Ford vans and later added a Volkswagen bus to the fleet.
“The first year we carried 200 people on our buses, and we recently carried our four millionth passenger. We have nine different stops in Kitsap County and seven or eight in Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM),” Asche said.
In 2018, Asche decided to take a step forward economically and environmentally. He started working with Blue Star Gas, a propane fuel distribution company, to begin the process of converting his shuttle fleet from gasoline to propane fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes propane as a clean alternative fuel. Benefits of propane fuel include reduced emissions and substantial fuel cost savings. To date Asche has converted 15 shuttles and plans to convert two more by the end of the year.
For these efforts, the Bremerton Kitsap Airporter received a Port of Seattle 2018 Environmental Excellence Award in the Small Business and Environmental Performance categories.
It didn’t take long for Asche to see the results he was hoping for. With the conversion from gasoline to propane autogas, Bremerton Kitsap Airporter reduced carbon emissions by 161 tonnes in 2018. Bremerton Kitsap Airporter’s propane-powered buses used 51,660 gallons to travel 400,000 miles in 2018 as they made their way to and from the airport.
To make the switch, Asche installed a conversion system on each vehicle to allow it to run on propane autogas and installed a 5,000-gallon propane tank on his Port Orchard property for his vehicles to use as a fueling source.
Propane provides a simple way for fleets like the Bremerton Kitsap Airporter to reduce their environmental impact, said Christina Suarez, representative from Blue Star Autogas.
“On average our customers experience a 40 percent reduction in overall fuel cost,” Suarez said. “Propane also contributes to cleaner air in their community by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent.”
She said propane engines are also much quieter, and the odor of exhaust is less offensive because of cleaner quality of the fuel.
“We’re excited about the whole thing,” Asche said of the award. “We don’t get much recognition, so this is a first step and we are anxious to receive this award.”