The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has voted to purchase 295 40-foot compressed natural gas buses, which will be fueled by renewable natural gas (RNG), according to the latest release from NGVAmerica. The contract also includes an option for the purchase of 305 additional 40-foot CNG buses.
NGVAmerica says the buses will replace part of the aging bus fleet and signals a commitment by the transit agency, already one of the largest natural gas bus fleets in the nation, to continue using natural gas to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in Los Angeles County.
“Transit agencies around the nation continue to realize the benefits of renewable natural gas,” says Katheryn Clay, interim director of NGV America. “Diesel emissions continue to plague our environment, especially in cities like Los Angeles. But together, with the leadership from agencies like LA Metro, we can use natural gas-powered vehicles to clean up the air and the environment in and around our communities today.”
“We take our responsibility to both the environment and taxpayers very seriously,” says Cris B. Liban, Metro’s executive officer for environment and sustainability. “By using renewable natural gas, as well as other technologies, we will continue to exceed our environmental goals and ensure we provide the best transportation service to our customers and region.”
Notably, LA Metro will vote on a similar purchase of buses at its board meeting next month. The commissioners will be looking at purchasing additional CNG and other alternative fuel vehicles to upgrade their fleet.
In addition to the purchase of these new buses, LA Metro will also begin retrofitting and replacing its buses with the new Cummins-Westport Low NOx CNG engines that reduce smog-forming NOx and GHG emissions that are 90% lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency NOx limit.
“This engine gives our customers the most affordable path to zero-equivalent emissions and the benefits of performance and reliability described by California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District as equivalent to an electric vehicle,” says Rob Neitzke, president of Cummins Westport.
Previously, LA Metro awarded an RNG contract to Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to fuel its fleet of transit buses. The deal calls for Clean Energy to provide Metro with its Redeem brand of RNG, made entirely from 100% organic waste.
Over the five-year period, the transition to RNG will reduce Metro’s GHG emissions by over 520,000 metric tons over the use of regular natural gas and by almost 900,000 metric tons over the use of diesel.
The California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, SoCalGas and Clean Energy issued a joint statement in response to LA Metro’s decision to purchase the natural gas buses, calling it “an important move in the fight to improve the region’s air quality.”
“By authorizing the purchase of zero-equivalent buses and fueling them with renewable natural gas, MTA will deploy game-changing, cutting-edge technology that can reduce exhaust emissions by as much as 98 percent when compared to MTA’s current buses. When accounting for the amount of coal-fired electric generation in large areas of the grid where MTA operates, buses powered by renewable natural gas can register even lower emission levels than a 100 percent battery bus,” the companies say.
“MTA staff confirmed in two separate board reports over the past 18 months that zero-equivalent buses fueled by 100 percent renewable natural gas would be most effective at reducing in-basin particulate matter, total carbon dioxide emissions, total greenhouse gas emissions, and total NOx from Metro’s fleet over the next 40 years as compared to transitioning to either electric or fuel cell buses.
“We support MTA’s leadership in procuring cutting-edge bus technology that will significantly improve regional air quality and save local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” the statement concludes.