California Transit Agency Makes Moves to Improve Natural Gas Refueling

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Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA), a transit operator in San Bernardino County, Calif., is upgrading its compressed natural gas (CNG)/liquefied natural gas (LNG) refueling station by building an adjacent operations facility.

On Friday, VVTA representatives joined county and local officials to break ground on construction of its Barstow operations facility, which is slated for completion in spring 2020. The new 8,500-square-foot facility will integrate with the existing VVTA CNG/LNG public fueling station, located at 100 North Sandstone Ct. The new facility delivers a host of benefits compared to VVTA’s leased facility in east Barstow, the agency says.

“We’re excited to see the operational savings the new location will deliver to the agency,” says Larry Bird, mayor of the City of Hesperia and VVTA board chair. “Refueling the buses from its current location has always been challenging and added a considerable expense to operations.”

Construction of the new 5.5-acre facility will enable a direct connection to the adjacent gas pipeline, eliminating the need to have fuel delivered by truck.

The current 12-mile round trip to refuel adds 38,880 miles annually, says VVTA. By relocating the new facility adjacent to the fueling station, VVTA expects to save more than $100,000 annually in operating expenses.

Following its July 2015 merger with Barstow Area Transit, VVTA purchased the CNG/LNG fueling station and its parcel from the City of Barstow. This strategic move provides additional benefits, including the ability for VVTA to incorporate battery electric buses into its Barstow fleet.

The new facility will feature three modern service bays, updated maintenance equipment, ample room for operations and administration staff, and a comfortable lobby for riders who come in to purchase bus passes. It will also feature four battery electric charging stations, battery electric storage and a solar photovoltaic array. The agency will begin to operate battery electric buses from its Barstow location in 2020. Last year, it received federal funding to replace CNG buses that have exceeded their useful life with electric buses.

“We’re pleased to see the quality of service VVTA has brought to the Barstow area,” says Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, mayor of the City of Barstow. “This facility will help VVTA move forward with its successful plan to serve the Barstow community with excellent and efficient public transportation.”

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Steve Lund
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Steve Lund

You’re planning on changing from natural gas to electric? Would probably reconsider. Renewable natural gas transportation is cheaper than electric and is the only fuel that is carbon negative and near zero emission. Electric batteries are dirty to produce and require the mining of cobalt and lithium which are both not environmentally friendly. Renewable Natural Gas is produced by capturing methane released from waste products and puriiying the methane to produce RNG to power existing engines that are converted from diesel fuel to RNG. Good luck with your plans to go all-electric—you’ll need it!!

Nicholas
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Nicholas

We really need to commit to only renewable gas as we work towards all electric fleets.