California-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. reported Thursday that customers increased natural gas vehicle (NGV) orders by 70% this year compared with 2012, and the public transit sector helped lead the way.

Clean Energy said that public transit and taxi systems in Long Beach, CA, and Las Vegas, NV, greatly expanded their compressed natural gas (CNG) fleets this year, drawing on support from the Newport Beach-based transportation fuel and infrastructure provider.

Long Beach Public Transportation Co. (LBT) signed a multi-year operations/maintenance agreement with Clean Energy for its natural gas fueling needs as it deployed 64 CNG buses in its fleet this year. It has a private fueling station provided by Clean Energy that can fuel up to a fleet of 110 CNG buses.

"If LBT were to reach capacity of 110 CNG buses, this fleet could consumer 1.5 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) of CNG annually," Clean Energy said.

Las Vegas transportation company Whittlesea-Bell Transportation rolled out 229 CNG vehicles this year and plans to continue a transition to a total natural gas-fueled fleet by 2016. Clean Energy's network of six public-access fueling stations in Las Vegas will support this fleet's growth.

Whittlesea-Bell's 229 CNG vehicles include 92 Transit Connect taxis; 92 Dodge Caravans; 25 shuttle buses; and 20 stretched Cadillac Escalades, which will be the first of their kind operating on natural gas. Collectively, these vehicles are projected to consume 1.3 million GGE of CNG annually when they are all deployed.

For Clean Energy CEO Andrew Littlefair, recipient of an award for environmental leadership from the California League of Conservation Voters, this year has included a "pronounced trend toward natural gas as a transportation fuel."

The year also will see about 2,400 Cummins Westport 12-liter natural gas engines produced, with the projection that 10,000 will be manufactured next year, Littlefair said.  In addition, 10 more "America's Natural Gas Highway" stations began fueling this year, bringing the total to 19 now in service to support America's truckers, he said.