Long Beach Transit introduces buses that use natural gas

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Long Beach Transit celebrated its latest environmental milestone Thursday with the unveiling of a new compressed natural gas station and fleet of CNG buses.

The first fleet of CNG buses - about 64 to be in service by year's end - will complement Transit's fleet of hybrid electric-gasoline 40-foot buses and replace the smaller diesel buses, while the North Long Beach station, which will be able to fuel up to 95 buses, is expected to help lower gasoline costs by about one-third, said Rolando Cruz, Transit's executive director and vice president of maintenance and facility, who was the project director on the station.

"This is our first venture into CNG," Cruz said. "I think that America is realizing that sustainability can also be cost-effective."
The average price of diesel is $3 to $4 a gallon, while using CNG and electricity would cost about $1.30 a gallon, Cruz said.

Officials conducted an extensive evaluation of the alternative fuel propulsion technologies available before the board in August 2010 adopted a policy that supported fuel diversification, which includes the use of both gas hybrid and CNG buses, said board Chairwoman Barbara Sullivan-George.

"Over the years, we have voluntarily chosen a more environmentally friendly path in making improvements, not only for our customers in the community but in our day-to-day operations," she said. "This is true for our fleet of buses as well."

The effort to design and prepare Long Beach Transit's facilities to operate, service and maintain its new CNG fleet was a year in the making, she said.

"At the end of this year we are on track to replace nearly 70 percent of our buses with alternative fuel vehicles," she said.

karen.robes@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2088, twitter.com/KarenMeeksPT

This article was first published by Press-Telegram.


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