APTA | Passenger Transport
January 17, 2011

In This Issue

The classifieds in this issue include 1 notice, 12 bids & proposals, and 7 job opportunities!


L.A. Metro Operates All Clean-Fuel Fleet as Last Diesel Bus Retires

Los Angeles Metro retired the last diesel bus in its 2,228-vehicle fleet on Jan. 12, becoming the largest major transit agency in the U.S. to operate only alternative clean fueled buses. The “retirement” ceremony highlighted the agency’s significant contribution to reducing air pollution in one of America’s smoggiest regions.

“What Metro has achieved transcends Los Angeles County,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Don Knabe. “We proved from both a technical and economic standpoint that a large transit agency can operate with alternative, clean-burning fuels and this has led many other transit agencies to follow our lead. Likewise, what Metro is doing to tap solar energy, recycle, and build green facilities is raising the bar for the industry. That’s good for our customers, taxpayers, and the environment.”

Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy—who helped spearhead the conversion to alternative fuels while heading bus operations for Metro’s predecessor agency, the Southern California Rapid Transit District—pointed that this effort not only is good for the environment, but also helps wean America from dependence on foreign oil because vast reserves of natural gas and other fuels exist in North America.

“As the largest transit system in the country to have a 100 percent environmentally friendly bus fleet, L.A. Metro serves as a model to the public transportation industry. This is a big achievement and I applaud Metro,” said APTA President William Millar. “It is important to note that this achievement did not happen overnight,” he added. “L.A. Metro and its predecessor organizations have been at the leading edge of clean bus fuel technology for about a quarter of a century.”

The Los Angeles public transportation system is among the largest in the U.S., with nearly 400 million annual passenger boardings. Its buses log just under 1.5 billion miles a year.

The agency’s directors decided in 1993 to order only clean air vehicles. After experimenting with methanol and ethanol buses that proved too corrosive for bus engines, Metro, ultimately, went with vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). The current Metro fleet includes 2,221 CNG buses, one electric bus, and six gasoline-electric hybrid buses—all together responsible for 1 billion clean air miles.

According to Los Angeles Metro, its CNG buses reduce cancer-causing particulate matter by more than 80 percent compared with diesel, and the switch from diesel to CNG means a drop in greenhouse gas emissions by 300,000 pounds per day. The health benefits compensate for the fact that CNG buses cost about 10 to 15 percent more to operate than standard diesel engine buses, largely because of increased maintenance costs.

“The American Lung Association in California applauds Metro’s accomplishment in converting their transit fleet from older diesel buses to cleaner natural gas buses,” said Jane Warner, president and chief executive officer of the American Lung Association in California. “By acquiring cleaner-fueled buses, Metro is helping to address the region’s serious pollution problems and reduce smog related illnesses and deaths.”

“When I was growing up in Los Angeles, I remember days when the air was too smoggy to go outside and play, and today we understand how crucial clean air is for the health of our kids and communities,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “I’m proud that our entirely clean-fueled fleet is a key element of greening Los Angeles, and we’re simultaneously improving mobility, customer service and air quality with these new clean fueled buses."

The clean air bus fleet is just one aspect of Metro’s green program, which also includes widespread use of solar panels at bus maintenance facilities and other energy-saving devices to cut energy costs; recycling; and building and retrofitting new transit facilities with sustainable materials and practices. Installation of solar panels, LED lights, and other energy-saving features and recycling saves Metro more than $1 million annually in operating costs. The solar panels alone reduced Metro’s carbon footprint by 16,500 metric tons in 2010, the equivalent of removing 3,200 private cars from Los Angeles area streets and freeways.


Photo by Luis Inzunza, Los Angeles Metro
A tow truck takes the last diesel bus in Los Angeles Metro’s 2,228-bus fleet away to retirement. The agency now operates only clean-air buses: 2,221 powered by CNG, six gasoline-electric hybrids, and one electric bus.



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