The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA), the largest public transportation system in car-laden Southern California, is operating the nation’s largest natural gas-powered bus fleet, and Seal Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. said Tuesday it has signed a contract to upgrade four of LAMTA’s fueling stations.

Under a $8.4 million contract Clean Energy will rehabilitate four compressed natural gas (CNG) bus fueling sites. LAMTA operates 2,506 CNG-powered buses, more than 95% of its fleet. The CNG buses consume more than 30 million gallons of CNG annually.

Currently the operator of the LAMTA stations, Clean Energy said during the next 18 months its new contract calls for reconfiguring and upgrading the CNG fueling stations’ compressor equipment. LAMTA obtained a federal stimulus package grant for funding the CNG station upgrade project under last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

As somewhat of a model for other public transit systems around the region and nationally, LAMTA’s bus system includes 191 fixed routes crisscrossing a 1,433-square-mile area in Los Angeles County where 9.6 million people, or nearly a third of the state’s population, live and work. LAMTA chalked up 365 million passenger boardings last year.

Clean Energy so far is partnering with a number of public transit fleets to allow buses to run on natural gas — CNG or liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to James Harger, Clean Energy’s chief marketing officer. The company’s clients operate more than 5,000 CNG-powered buses.

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