The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in California has more than 2,250 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses in its fleet and that number is growing. Last week, it took delivery of the 900th and final New Flyer XN40 bus of a $508 million contract signed in January 2013 and was granted USD 10.5 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund the purchase of 30 next-generation, near zero-emission CNG buses.
Combined with Metro’s $10.5-million match, a total of $21 million will be invested to replace ageing diesel buses that now operate on seven Metro contracted bus lines. Grant funding will also pay for refueling facilities, as well as an innovative workplace development program to give workers new training opportunities to operate and maintain these and other buses around the county.
“We are appreciative of the U.S Department of Transportation for this grant that will go a long way toward modernizing our contracted bus fleet,” said John Fasana, Metro Board Chair. “This grant represents the largest award in the state of California under this discretionary U.S. DOT program, and it reflects our close federal partnership to give this region the best air quality and vehicle technology possible.”
As part of its procurement, Metro will purchase the cleanest compressed natural gas (CNG) buses ever made. New CNG engines that will be placed in the new buses are 1,000 times cleaner than the diesel buses Metro operated during the 1980s and ‘90s. The engines are also projected to reduce emissions 25 percent more than Metro’s 2014 CNG transit vehicles.
They will be particularly well suited to operate on contracted bus lines in the South Bay and Gateway Cities region, since these areas suffer from stubbornly poor air quality in part due to the heavy truck traffic traveling in and out of port areas. There are now only about 66 contracted diesel buses that have reached the end of their useful life remaining in the county. Metro has committed to replacing all of them in the coming years.
The seven bus lines that will operate these new 40-foot CNG buses together carry 6.8 million passenger boardings per year. They transport more than 40,000 boardings a week, providing transit access to thousands of jobs and regional destinations, including Los Angeles International Airport.
Metro currently has the largest CNG bus fleet in the country. In 1992, Metro’s Board of Directors adopted a policy to only purchase CNG buses. The agency now has 2,500 CNG buses that travel more than 85 million miles per year. In total, CNG buses have operated about 1.5 billion miles in the county since the program’s inception. CNG fuel is less expensive than diesel on a cost-per-mile basis. Over the last 15 years, Metro has saved an average of 47 cents per mile on CNG fuel costs.
“Metro is already the nation’s leading operator of clean air CNG buses, but this new funding will help us expedite the replacement of a small number of diesel buses that are still in our contracted service fleets,” said Phillip A. Washington, Metro CEO. “We are now one step closer to completely eradicating diesel buses of any kind from the streets of Los Angeles County. I’d like to thank our partners at the U.S. Department of Transportation for helping us reach that goal.”
Metro is now in the CNG bus procurement process, and anticipates putting the new vehicles into service next year.
Metro Receives 900th and Final Bus of New Flyer Order
On October 27, Metro took delivery of the 900th and final New Flyer XN40 bus, describing the bus as a real work horse for the transit agency. Metro’s New Flyer buses deliver about 650,000 miles each week and boast the highest reliability in the fleet. In addition, the XN40 bus features enhanced ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) amenities including an advanced securement system and additional space for passengers in wheelchairs.
“Having a 21st century transportation system means doing everything we can to ease congestion in L.A. County, while continuing to protect our environment,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro First Vice Chair Eric Garcetti. “The delivery of the 900th New Flyer XN40 bus reminds us that we can keep our commitment to cleaner air and healthier communities without sacrificing the quality of our transportation system.”
In July, Metro issued a Request for Proposals for as many as 1,000 more buses.