San Diego Transit Agency to Deploy 77 Propane Autogas Buses


The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) says it has received the first of 77 buses powered by clean propane gas at its Copley Park facility. According to the MTS, these are the first propane-powered buses in San Diego’s transit fleet and are estimated to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 2 million pounds per year.

“MTS has made great strides to reduce its carbon footprint in San Diego over the past decade. Propane-powered buses are the latest example,” said MTS CEO Paul Jablonski. “Over the lifecycle of all 77 propane buses purchased, the San Diego region will experience a reduction of more than 13 million pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions.”

The MTS operates a fleet of 37 minibuses and 173 paratransit buses, primarily for its complementary ADA paratransit operations and some low-capacity fixed routes. To upgrade the existing fleet, MTS purchased 31 minibuses and 46 paratransit buses, which are scheduled for delivery at various times within the next 10 months.

The agency says the first five paratransit buses were delivered on Sept. 15 and were recently put into service. The new paratransit buses are 2016 Starcraft Allstars on the Ford E-450 chassis, while the minibuses are 2016 El Dorado National-Aero Elite 320 on the Ford F-550 chassis.

By converting 77 buses to propane, MTS expects to realize a total cost savings of nearly $5.8 million during the five- to seven-year operational lifecycle of the vehicles.

The City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan calls for annual emissions to be cut in half during the next two decades. California’s emissions reduction goals include a 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030. The MTS says it has been aggressively helping San Diego and California reach these goals in many ways, including the following:

  • Transporting about 42% of passengers on a zero-emission light rail system;
  • Operating a nearly 100% clean-fueled, fixed-route bus fleet;
  • Phasing out all diesel buses from the fleet;
  • Using 100% renewable natural gas for bus operations;
  • Achieving LEED Silver status for new bus operations facilities in Chula Vista and El Cajon;
  • Installing solar power at 600 new bus shelters and facilities; and
  • Testing near-zero NOx bus engines prototypes.

The MTS operates 95 bus routes and three trolley lines on 53 miles of double-tracked railway, serving more than 300,000 passengers every weekday. In fiscal year 2016, the MTS served 92.6 million riders.

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