The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) is beginning a new era of natural gas fuel for transportation with the arrival of the first of its new fleet of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses. The buses traveled coast to coast from Gillig’s plant in Hayward, California. The remainder of the buses will be arriving between now and late November.
“The arrival of the new CNG bus marks another milestone for the Authority,” said JTA Chairman Scott L. McCaleb at a press conference where one of the CNG buses was presented. “Replacing one diesel bus with a CNG bus is equivalent to taking 21 cars off the road.”
“Strong cities have strong transportation systems,” said City of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. “It is incredibly exciting to see the progress our rapid transit system is making with today’s unveiling of a more eco-friendly and fuel efficient bus.”
There are substantial benefits and savings for the JTA and the Northeast Florida region in deploying CNG powered buses: CNG is a low cost, clean and domestically produced energy source. $9.2 million is expected t be saved over a 15-year period by converting a minimum of 100 buses from diesel to CNG.
Construction of the JTA’s CNG fueling facility, awarded to Clean Energy Fuels Corp. last year, is underway. It will be completed in December and a grand opening for the public access station will be held in January 2016.
“We are excited to join other transit agencies across the Nation who have converted to compressed natural gas,” said JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. “The Flyer fleet will be comprised of 100 percent CNG vehicles for a ride that is quieter, more fuel efficient and better for the environment.”
Eleven of the initial 23 buses will be used for the First Coast Flyer™ (Bus Rapid Transit) System. The premium service will offer 10-minute frequency during weekday peak hours and 15-minute frequency in weekday off peak hours.
The First Coast Flyer is planned in five-phases and serves as the backbone to the regional transit system. The North Corridor “Green Line” will launch on December 7, 2015. When completed in 2018, the Flyer system will cover 57 miles of destination travel, and will be the largest bus rapid transit system of its kind in the U.S. Southeast.
“I am so pleased that with the unveiling of these new Natural Gas buses,” said Congresswoman Corrine Brown. “The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) will be stepping into the future of transportation in this country. With strong leadership from Nat Ford, JTA is meeting the needs of Jacksonville’s transit riders with new routes, innovative services, and now healthier and more efficient buses.”
(Source: Jacksonville Transportation Authority)