In the U.S. State of New York, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA)’s Metro is introducing compressed natural gas (CNG) operating vehicles to its fleet, as the agency takes the initiative toward implementing a greener mode of public transportation. The new buses and vans will replace the oldest diesel vehicles currently in use.
Starting this week, Metro has begun operating the first of 44 full-size buses, first of 10 paratransit vans and two MV-1 supervisor vehicles, all powered by clean burning, compressed natural gas.
Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director said, “I want to thank our federal and state delegations for their collective efforts in securing essential funds for these vehicles. This investment in New York’s transportation infrastructure magnifies the ongoing synergy between public transit investment, job creation and economic growth in western New York and further enhances the current fiscal stability of the NFTA in the process.”
Procurement of these vehicles is supported by $3.8 million in new New York State Accelerated Transit Capital funding provided to the NFTA through the 2015-16 New York State budget.
The new 40-foot buses manufactured in Plattsburg, NY, by Nova Bus (part of Volvo Corporation). “As a New York manufacturer of natural gas buses, we are very proud to support NFTA-Metro in achieving their Going Green initiative. NFTA’s Nova Bus vehicles are a combination of modern design and high functionality providing the citizens of Buffalo Niagara the best in public transportation experience,” said Rob Mowat, Vice President of Sales for Nova Bus.
Nineteen additional full size buses will be phased into service by February 1. The remainder of the 44 buses (24) are expected to be carrying customers throughout the region later this summer.
The paratransit vans, manufactured in Canandaigua, NY, by Shepard Brothers, will be used to provide an average of 700 rides per day for the 5,945 approved registered customers with special needs who depend on Metro paratransit services for their transportation needs. Nine additional CNG fueled vans will be incorporated into operation by February 1.
The two MV-1 supervisor vehicles represent a new addition to Metro’s fleet. They will provide Metro field supervisors with the unique ability to transport a customer with a mobility challenge, or someone using a wheelchair. Thomas George, NFTA director of public transit commented, “Compressed natural gas is the fuel of the future for our fleet of vehicles. It’s affordable, plentiful, safe and made in the USA. CNG is an eco-friendly fuel that helps improve our air quality and will increase the overall efficiency of our fleet.”
Compressed natural gas is an effective alternative fuel for public transportation; it also provides some freedom from the diesel fuel market. Natural gas at Metro’s fueling facility will be 99 percent American sourced. Through the course of their lives, these Metro CNG buses will save the atmosphere from more than 1,300 tons of carbon. It produces less unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and particulate matter than gasoline.
New CNG Fueling Station
A $5.9 million state-of-the-art CNG fueling facility at Metro’s Frontier Bus facility, 1000 Military Road, Buffalo, is in the commissioning phase and buses are presently being fueled as part of the process. The facility is expected to be fully operational January 25. The fueling station encompasses one and a half acres and features two 250-hp compressors, producing 700 standard cubic feet per minute that will serve four fuel dispensers. A twin tower dryer, control building, electric motor and control distribution wiring and control system are also part of the project. The functionality of the station will more than cover Metro’s needs for the immediate future, but the facility can be expanded to meet new demands going forward.
Natural Gas Advantages
Although the price of natural gas does fluctuate, it is consistently below low sulfur diesel. As such, it provides the authority with much needed budget stability for a major commodity.
Natural gas has a number of safety advantages over diesel fuel. It is non-toxic, non-corrosive and will never contaminate ground or water. CNG is stored under high pressure but the range of flammability is much narrower than gasoline. CNG will not burn at concentrations below 5 percent or above about 15 percent when mixed with air. The flashpoint for gasoline is 250 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the flashpoint for natural gas is 1100 degrees, making the risk of fire much lower.
Natural gas is lighter than air and dissipates if leaked.