An Atlantic City, NJ, shuttle bus service used by residents and millions of visitors annually has signed a contract to have Seal Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. build and operate a fast-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Egg Harbor Township.

Atlantic City Jitney Association (ACJA) deploys a new fleet of 190 CNG-fueled 13-passenger shuttle buses, which Clean Energy's fueling facility will eventually handle. The facility, which will also be open to public access, is scheduled to begin operations in the second half of the year, Clean Energy said.

The ACJA was awarded a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to cover the incremental cost of acquiring new CNG vehicles.

Clean Energy said the CNG alternative costs less per gallon than diesel or gasoline and has 30% lower greenhouse gas emissions in light-duty vehicles, such as the Atlantic City shuttle buses. It also has 23% lower emissions in medium and heavy duty vehicle applications.

Natural gas as an alternative transportation fuel also may have cost advantages compared to other alternative fuels for passenger vehicles. A recently published Purdue University study concluded that consumers in states with higher utility rates and tiered structures who buy hybrid plug-in vehicles could see their energy consumption jump up to 60%, resulting in significantly higher energy bills.

For fleet operators like ACJA President Tom Woodruff CNG is the choice. "Ours is the longest running nonsubsidized transit company in America and we are committed to switching our entire fleet to 100% natural gas power," he said. Fuel, maintenance and replacement are his largest expenditures, and CNG helps lower the cost of all of those, according to Woodruff.

Clean Energy chief marketing officer James Harger called the Atlantic City move to CNG an "important, exemplary fleet transition effort." He noted that his company now helps public transit organizations fuel more than 5,000 natural gas-powered buses around the nation.

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