NEAR ZERO EMISSION CNG BUSES FOR LOS ANGELES METRO
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. Recently 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.
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 company claims. The engines are also projected to reduce emissions 25 percent more than Metro’s 2014 CNG transit vehicles. In July, Metro issued a Request for Proposals for as many as 1,000 more buses.
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.
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 now in the next CNG bus procurement process, and anticipates putting the new vehicles into service next year.
On October 27, Metro took delivery of the 900th and final New Flyer XN40 bus of the current order, 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.