Natural Gas Buses at Forefront of U.S. Public Transit Transition to Alt-Fuels

Omnitrans buses will surpass the 100 million mile mark in CNG miles traveled, April 2013

Omnitrans buses will surpass the 100 million mile mark in CNG miles traveled, April 2013

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reports more than 35 percent of U.S. public transportation buses use alternative fuels  or hybrid technology, as of January 1, 2011.  This is a striking contrast to the 1.3 percent of automobiles that used  alternative-fuels in 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Outlook. Vehicles operating on natural gas are at the forefront.

“Public  transportation is leading the way with environmentally efficient vehicles,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “The public transit vehicle fleet is the proving ground for environmental technology that may some day become a part of the nation’s automobile fleet.”

APTA statistics for early 2011 show that  18.6 percent of U.S. transit buses used compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and blends.  Almost 9 percent (8.8%) of public transit buses were hybrids and nearly 8 percent (7.9%) of public transit buses used biodiesel.

“Today’s modern public transit bus is increasingly either a hybrid or is powered by fuels that are good for the environment,” said APTA Chair Flora Castillo.  “The public transportation industry is a green industry and is committed to improving the environment.”

DART NABI CNG Bus outside DART Headquarters on March 6, 2012

DART NABI CNG Bus outside DART Headquarters on March 6, 2012

APTA noted  that U.S. public transportation use saves 37 million metric tons of carbon emission every year.  Additionally, since public transit use in the United States saves 4.7 billion gallons of gasoline annually, public transit riders are doing their part to help our nation be energy independent, according to APTA.

Listed below are examples of the diversity of CNG-fuelled bus fleets across the country in small, mid-sized, and large systems:

  • Dallas, TX – DART’s  new fleet of CNG 40-foot buses fleet began service on January 28, 2013 and will replace the agency’s mix of diesel and liquefied natural gas buses by 2015.  The agency’s annual fuel costs will be cut by nearly two-thirds by the end of 2015.  DART is putting five new buses into service every week to replace the existing fleet.
  • Los Angeles, CA – LA Metro operates the largest CNG fleet in the U.S. with 2,200 CNG vehicles.  LA Metro also buys 15% of all transit buses in the United States.
  • San Bernardino, CA – Omnitrans’ all CNG fleet will surpass the 100 million mile mark in April, 2013.  Omnitrans first started to purchase CNG buses in 1997 and was at the forefront of the transition from diesel fuel to compressed natural gas, adopting the clean fuel technology years before regional air quality regulations mandated the switch.
  • State College, PA – Centre Area Transportation Authority’s entire fleet runs on CNG.  It was the first transit agency on the East Coast to convert its entire diesel fleet to one that operates entirely on alternative fuel.
  • Phoenix, AZ – Valley Metro’s bus fleet uses CNG and biodiesel fuels, as well as electric-hybrid buses.
  • Salem, OR – Salem-Keizer Transit’s fleet is made up of 34 CNG buses and 30 biodiesel buses.  In 2010, the transit district purchased its first hybrid gas/electric bus.

(Source: American Public Transportation Association)

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