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Near-Zero Emission NGV Buses Slated for Los Angeles Transit Fleet

Global bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries on Wednesday committed to have the first near-zero natural gas vehicle (NGV) transit bus on the market. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LA Metro) is slated to receive the first two buses.

Key to the near-zero emission (NZ) NGV technology is the 8.9-liter ISL G Cummins Westport engine (see Daily GPIMay 6).

LA Metro described its two NZ buses as an Xcelsior model with a 2017 ISL G NZ engine now being built in Ontario, CA, and a New Flyer bus being upgraded to the 2018 version of the engine by Cummins Pacific in Downey, CA.

LA Metro expects a per-bus price premium in the $10,000-$15,000 range, depending on individual bus builds and the 2017 versus 2018 versions of the NZ engine, said John Drayton, all-fuels specialist at the city transit operation. The ISL G NZ powered Xcelsior XN40 bus is expected to be delivered during this quarter.

NZ engines, with California Air Resources Board-certified nitrogen oxide emissions at just 0.02 grams per brake-horsepower, are 90% below the 2010 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. They were introduced by Cummins Westport last year.

"We continue to see growing demand for natural gas-powered buses," said New Flyer's Paul Smith, executive vice president for sales/marketing.

Smith reiterated for Fleets & Fuels newsletter that compressed natural gas (CNG) infrastructure is being expanded as domestic natural gas supplies become more abundant. In addition, he cited growing customer interest in renewable natural gas (RNG), which has been stressed throughout the industry this year, and works well with the new NZ engines (see Daily GPI,Nov. 24, 2015).

RNG is touted as pipeline-quality gas that is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas, yet can be produced from waste products, such as landfills, New Flyer officials said.

In reporting revenues of $108 million for 2Q2016 and 82.9 million gallons equivalent of natural gas fuel delivered during the quarter, an 11% increase quarter over quarter, Newport Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels said that its RNG product, Redeem, continues to draw customers.

"We believe the increasing attention to the immediate favorable environmental impacts of natural gas, particularly our Redeem RNG, coupled with growing volumes through customer fleet expansions and increased market penetration, are showing through in our operating results," said Clean Energy CEO Andrew Littlefair.

Clean Energy has reported continued growth in the trucking, transit and refuse hauling sectors. And to help support continued expansion, the company has won $19.5 million in grants from various states during 2Q2016, supporting the fleet acquisitions of 369 NGVs and the construction of a fueling station. The grants included $1.4 million from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for Ruan Transportation Management System's purchase of 27 CNG Class 8 trucks.

Also in Texas, Love's Travel Stops' Trillium CNG plans to add a new CNG fueling system to a private station now operated by Via Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio. The station will support up to 500 new 40-foot CNG-fueled Volvo Nova buses.

"When completed, the expanded operation will be the largest CNG dispensing facility in the United States," said Gary Glasscock, vice president for fleets and facilities at the city transit operation.

Featuring seven 700-horsepower Ariel JGA compressors and Kraus Global dispensers, the facility will be capable of dispensing 10,272 cubic feet/minute (cf/m), or more than 85 equivalent gallons/minute. The expanded station also will have twin SPX tower dryers capable of handling 10,000 cf/m, and fully redundant power generation.

The San Antonio transit system operates 478 NGV buses, 124 propane autogas-fueled paratransit vehicles and 14 propane trolleys built by Optima.

In Florida, another large CNG fueling station opened in St. Johns County at a county works facility, developed by the state's leading CNG provider, Nopetro. A public-private partnership between Nopetro and the county was developed to expand public access CNG fueling facilities in the region.

As part of a climate change initiative to reduce the use of imported oil, develop regional economic opportunities, and improve air quality, the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization provided St. Johns with a $732,000 grant to help pay the incremental cost of retrofitting up to 130 mid-duty CNG fleet vehicles.

In another first, Nopetro said it opened "the nation's largest public/private CNG fueling operation" in Orlando as part of a partnership with the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority. It also launched a tri-government public-private CNG fueling partnership in Tallahassee, partnering with county public schools, the city of Tallahassee and Leon County, FL.

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