TESTS SAY NITROGEN DOESN’T IMPROVE FUEL ECONOMY IN PB COUNTY BUSES
Regular readers of my column in Hometown News and my blog, www.EarlStewartOnCars.com may be tired of reading about nitrogen. This will be my 4th column in 3 years reaffirming that paying somebody to inflate your tires with nitrogen is waste of your hard earned money. Earlier columns are entitled “Don’t Pay for Nitrogen in Your Tires”, “Nitrogen and Shark Cartilage”, and “Nitrogen Scam Foisted on Palm Tran”.
What amazes me is how hard it is to put this nitrogen myth to rest. On my radio show last Saturday [Seaview AM 960 from 9-10 am], a caller told me she had paid a service department $8 per tire to fill her tires with nitrogen. She proceeded to tell me that she came back frequently to this service department so that they would add nitrogen to her tires “at no charge”. She was very happy with this arrangement. Her service department is the one that should really be happy! First they sold her a worthless product for $32 that might have cost them a total of $1.00. Secondly, they have her coming back to their auto service company regularly so that they can “inspect her vehicle” just in case there is further service she should pay them to do.
In my article, “Nitrogen Scam Foisted on Palm Tran” I asked Chuck Cohen, the Executive Director of Palm Beach County’s bus system, why he was spending $65,000 in taxpayers money for a worthless product. In email correspondence, Chuck of course disagreed with me. He told me that he would be testing the nitrogen in his bus’s tires to be sure that they did give them better fuel economy. The buses average about 4 miles per gallon of diesel fuel. I asked Chuck why he had to spend more tax payer’s money for tests when Consumer Reports had already conducted an extensive one year test of all makes of tires and come to the conclusion that nitrogen in your tires is no better than air. This is no surprise to those who know that air is comprised of 78% nitrogen.
Chuck Cohen’s assistant, Lorraine Szyms, sent me a copy of the final tests on Palm Tran’s tires on March 4. The tests were completed on January 30 by the Department of Mathematical Sciences Florida Atlantic University and Harold Herzlich of Herzlich Consulting, Inc. I’m not sure why it took so long for her to email me the test results. The test results are 8 pages long and you can read them in their entirety by clicking on this article on my blog, www.EarlStewartOnCars.com.
After reading through 8 pages of “techni-speak” by the FAU mathematics professors and Harold Herzlich, the fact that nitrogen was proven to be worthless for improving fuel economy was restated several times. The clearest phrase I could fine was, “From the previous data analysis we conclude that there is yet no observable effect in the fuel efficiency due to nitrogen tire inflation for the group of buses in this experiment”.
What concerns me is that there is clearly an effort under way to do more tests. Note the word, “yet” that Harold Herzlich used above. In the summary at the end of the test, it is stated, “Palm Tran is currently conducting further analysis using an electronic pressure sensor monitoring device that captures the tire pressure electronically”. The results of this testing should be completed by June 2009. Further more, Herzlich Consulting, Inc. is suggesting that they do more test too. This is no surprise, that’s how they make their money...doing testing.
It’s pretty obvious that the tests results are an embarrassment to Chuck Cohen and those “remaining members” of the Palm Beach County Commission who authorized the “Nitrogen Scam”. I guess they think if they can keep on testing, they never have to admit they were wrong. Other than the obvious problem with this scenario, is the additional cost of testing. I think that Karen Marcus and the “remaining” county commissioners owe it to the Palm Beach County taxpayers to draw the line and end this now. The taxpayers are already out $65,000 for the nitrogen apparatus. I want to know how much Palm Beach County paid FAU and Herzlich Consulting, Inc. for the first tests that proved nitrogen in their bus tires does not improve fuel mileage. I would also like to know how they chose Herzlich Consulting, Inc. Did they get competitive bids? Did they get bids from PBCC, FAU, and University of Florida? How much are these new tests with their “electronic pressure sensors” that Palm Tran itself is conducting costing us?
In case Chuck Cohen hasn’t been reading the newspapers or watching the news lately, our country is going through the greatest economic crisis since the great depression. It’s bad enough that his buses cost a $half-million each, get 4 miles to the gallon, and average less than 20% occupancy [it would be less expensive for the tax payers to pay “cab fare” for the handful of people riding Palm Tran]. Municipalities and counties are desperately looking for ways to cut spending so that they can continue to provide vital service to their citizen. We can’t afford to spend any more money to exonerate Chuck Cohen and the PB County Commission from another bad decision.
You can view the actual report here.