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TRANSIT

Cost advantage and positive public perception boost growing number of natural gas buses

11,000 natural gas buses on the road

Transit agencies across the country are transitioning to natural gas for its environmental and economic advantages over diesel and other alternative fueled buses. Today, over 11,000 natural gas buses operate across the country, and about 35 percent of new transit buses on order are powered by natural gas.

The economic case against electric

While diesel-electric hybrid-drive propulsion systems show promise in a number of medium and heavy-duty vehicle markets, it is becoming increasingly clear that the initial purchase price premium and the cost of battery replacement for this technology is not justified by the incremental improvement in fuel efficiency. Natural gas buses have a significant life-cycle cost advantage over diesel and diesel-hybrid powered buses.

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Positive public perception

Riders appreciate reliable, low-cost service and the quieter operation of natural gas buses, which operate at levels about 90 percent cleaner than diesel engines. Most importantly, use of natural gas communicates environmental stewardship and the importance of reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil.

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Building a natural gas station

If use of existing fueling infrastructure is not practical, convenient, or economical, it may be better to build a new CNG, LNG, or LCNG station. The design, capacity, and cost of a CNG, LNG or LCNG fueling station will vary based on:

  • Number of vehicles to be fueled, total daily fuel requirements and maximum hourly flow rate.
  • Whether time-fill, fast-fill or both capabilities are needed (most transit agencies other than the very smallest that may rely on cutaway shuttles capable of a complete time-fill overnight require fast-fill capability).
  • The level of remote station equipment monitoring.

If CNG vehicles are planned, most transit agencies choose to install compressors that take local natural gas distribution company gas from lower delivery pressures up to 4,500 to 5,000 psi, store it on-site, then transfer it during the vehicle fueling process to the onboard CNG cylinders at 3,600 psi. Another option for fleets that do not have gas available to their site, is use of an LCNG fueling station, which compresses LNG (available via delivery or onsite liquefaction), then “flashes” it through a high-pressure heat exchanger to gaseous state before dispensing to the onboard 3,600 psi CNG cylinders.

If LNG vehicles are to be used and an existing nearby LNG fueling facility is not already available to handle the additional load, then a regular supply of vehicle grade LNG must be located and on-site cryogenic storage and dispensing equipment will be installed. Most of today’s available vehicular LNG supply comes from a limited number of large-scale production plants. Due to their remote locations and transportation costs, their economic feasibility is directly impacted by distance from the prospective customer. Additional vehicular grade LNG production facilities are in development and advances in small- to mid-scale liquefaction technologies now make it possible to produce cost-competitive LNG closer to the fleets they serve, typically at a higher production cost but with lower transportation costs.

Need a natural gas station on your route?

If use of existing fueling infrastructure is not practical, convenient, or economical, it may be better to build a new CNG, LNG, or LCNG station. NGVA can connect you with member station builders across North America.

NGVA can connect you with member station builders across North America.

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