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Texas Guiding NGV Motorists to Fueling Stations

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has begun installing signs on designated highways across the state to show drivers the way to compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling stations.

The campaign fulfills a goal of House Bill (HB) 3679 to inform motorists of facilities that provide alternative fuels and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, including for natural gas vehicles (NGV).The signage is the first of its kind in Texas.

TxDOT’s first installation phase comprises 92 CNG and LNG signs in 51 locations, and plans to process additional requests as they are received.

One of the two legislative authors, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, said the new signage "will help increase public awareness of alternative fuel corridors in our state while improving travel for drivers and commercial fleets using CNG and LNG vehicles.” Co-author of the legislation, Rep. Jason Isaac, who also is president of the Texas Natural Gas Foundation, said NGVs are "key in diversifying our transportation fuel mix."

Meanwhile, in Washington state, renewable natural gas (RNG) received a boost from a law signed this month by Gov. Jay Inslee to increase the fuel’s development and use. The bill requires the Washington State University Extension Energy Program and the state Department of Commerce (DOC), in consultation with the Utilities and Transportation Commission, to submit recommendations by Sept. 1 to the legislature on how to promote sustainable development of RNG.

In addition, the bill requires the DOC, along with natural gas utilities and other state agencies, to explore the development of voluntary gas quality standards for injecting RNG into the state’s natural gas pipeline system; reinstate and expand incentives to stimulate investment in biogas capture, compression and nutrient recovery; and use of RNG for heating, electricity generation and transportation fuel.

Supporters of the bill included the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, the Northwest Gas Association and regional companies Promus Energy and Regenis.

In Southern California, the Santa Monica Big Blue Buss (BBB), part of the Los Angeles County municipal transit system, has jumped on the RNG bandwagon, committing to use the fuel in its NGV-dominated fleet in future upgrades. BBB plans to apply $18.3 million in federal and state funds to replace 50 40-foot New Flyer buses that were obtained between 2004 and 2006.

Among the new buses are seven 30-foot Gillig buses scheduled tol begin service this month; 20 40-foot Gillig vehicles that are expected to be delivered by October; and 23 40-foot Gillig buses slated for delivery by December.The new fleet will feature buses equipped with Cummins-Westport Near-Zero engines.

“We are making a significant investment to modernize one quarter of our fleet to deliver a safer, more comfortable travel experience for customers and operators,” said BBB’s Director of Transit Services Ed King. “Further, reshaping our fleet with smaller, more agile 30-foot vehicles will create new opportunities for ridership growth by enabling us to safely and efficiently serve customers on narrower streets and corridors.”

Serving Santa Monica and the western Los Angeles area since 1928, BBB operates a fleet of 200 vehicles that transport more than 54,000 passengers daily across a 58 square mile service area.

Elsewhere, New Flyer of America has been tapped to supply new NGV buses in Ohio, Texas and British Columbia (BC), helping transit systems expand their alternative fuel fleets.

Also in the news is the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), which has signed a contract with New Flayer for 154 Xcelsior CNG 40-foot heavy duty buses; Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has a deal for 82 of the same CNG vehicles; and BC Transit Corp. has a contract for eight of them.

COTA, using local, state and federal funding sources, has an additional option to purchase 126 buses to replace end-of-useful-life vehicles over the next five years. DART's contract, which supports new services beginning in in spring 2019, includes 41 firm orders with options to purchase an additional 41 vehicles. BC Transit annually connects more than 52.3 million customers in partnership with 59 local governments across 130 communities in the province.

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