August 15, 2017
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approved $68 million in contracts for new CNG buses July 27, after voting to transition to a 100 percent zero-emission fleet by 2030.
The LA Metro plan calls for the agency to maintain and upgrade its existing fleet of 100 percent CNG buses and transition to RNG, while moving the Metro Orange and Silver lines to electric.
“We commend LA Metro’s aspirational mandate to be zero emissions by 2030, as well as the agency’s recognition that meeting that goal requires using multiple alternative fuel technologies,” said Coalition President Thomas Lawson.
Agency looks forward to delivery of 360 new CNG buses
LA Metro, which has the largest CNG fleet in the U.S., agreed in June to purchase 295 new CNG buses powered by Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero 8.9-liter engines. The new contract, a $68 million purchase from New Flyer, will add 65 60-foot CNG articulated buses to the fleet. They also will be outfitted with Cummins Westport’s near-zero-NOx natural gas engine, which produces NOx emissions 90 percent lower than the current EPA limit of 0.2 grams per brake horsepower-hour. The buses, which will replace older CNG models that are slated for retirement, will run on Clean Energy Redeem RNG. LA Metro has the option to fuel its entire 2,250-bus fleet with Redeem.
Matching needs to technologies
Earlier in July, John Drayton, LA Metro’s head of vehicle technology, told the Coalition that the board must “choose the right tool for the right application.”
“The board expects to run one of the cleanest fleets in the world, and we’ll continue assessing technology choices to keep us on the cutting edge. Going forward, that will mean using both RNG and building up the fleet with complementary electric vehicles,” said Drayton. “Battery electric works well in niche operations here.”
LA Metro said it would evaluate the performance of the first two electric lines and then decide how to move forward with its plan for 100 percent zero-emission buses, which hinges on two factors. One, electric bus technology must improve quickly to enable buses with increased range, reduced weight and battery charging times, and extended battery life cycles. Two, electric bus and infrastructure technology must become less expensive.
Lawson pointed out that the agency doesn’t need to make an either/or decision to drastically reduce pollution in LA County. “Instead of choosing just one technology for every use case, LA Metro should continue to accelerate its use of both zero- and near-zero-emission technologies to meet Southern California’s air-quality goals,” he said.
Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission