Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) has switched its vehicles from diesel to Clean Energy’s compressed natural gas (CNG) as part of a sustainability initiative to reduce emissions, decrease noise volume and lower fuel costs.

First Transit, a provider of shuttle bus services at PHL, has signed a seven-year contract with Clean Energy for an expected volume of 2.5 million GGEs to power 38 natural gas transit buses. The shuttle fleet accommodates three main routes at PHL – employee, cargo and long-term economy parking – that traverse a total of 3.5 million trips per year.

“Airport transit vehicles operate in confined areas, primarily parking lots, so carbon emissions and noise pollution have a greater impact on the passenger experience,” states Raymond Blethen, Northeast director of operations at First Transit. “The airport was seeking to adopt alternative fuels and environmentally friendly vehicles, so it converted 100 percent of its fleet to natural gas. The CNG-fueled shuttle buses run 90 percent quieter than diesel, lower CO2 emissions by 20 percent and have no fumes.”

Blethen adds, “With CNG, our fuel costs are more stable than diesel, the maintenance is a lot cleaner and it improves the reliability of vehicles in the winter. From a safety standpoint, there is no spillage, so unlike diesel, we never have to shut down.”

Separately, Colonial Airport Parking, a transportation organization that moves travelers to and from PHL, uses propane autogas buses. Last year, the company reported reductions in both fuel and bus maintenance costs as a result of the alt-fuel switch.

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