The Clean Bus Petition for Dutchess County sign now

The time is now to actively begin the process of replacing our county's older buses with hybrid and/or compressed natural gas buses-- judging from this article on the front page of the Poughkeepsie Journal Friday September 21st about Dutchess County LOOP buses, it seems that some if not all of our county-owned LOOP buses may need to be replaced sooner than later (see:
"LOOP Buses Will Undergo Safety Checks: Complaints Spur State Inspections" by John Davis:
http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070921/NEWS01/709210329/1006/NEWS01).

Fact: Literally cozens of communities across the country (see full list below) have moved forward to save money and clean up their air with hybrid or compressed natural gas buses-- even Republican Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef just last October when he made a public commitment then for "purchasing hybrid or alternatively fueled vehicles in accordance with the Rockland County Fuel-efficient Vehicle Act (Local Law No.4), which requires (through a series of phased milestone dates) that 100\% of medium- and light-duty vehicles purchased by the County be hybrid or alternatively fueled by July 2010; Rockland County is applying for a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to purchase hybrid buses for Transport of Rockland to have in service in 2008."
[see http://www.co.rockland.ny.us/Executive/ENews/06/10-12-06.htm ]

Fact: "Transit agencies in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities around the country are investing in hybrid diesel buses, which promise to be more fuel efficient and lower emitting than conventional diesel buses-- in: Albuquerque, NM, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD, Charlotte, NC, Chicago, IL, Cleveland, OH, Eugene, OR, Hartford/Stamford, CT, Honolulu, HI, Houston, TX, Indianapolis, IN, Louisville, KY, Norwalk, CA, Orange County, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Portland, OR, San Joaquin, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, Seattle/King County, WA, Shreveport, LA, Springfield, MA, St. Paul, MN, Yosemite National Park, CA, New York, NY, Roosevelt Island, NY, San Francisco, CA, and Westchester County, NY."
[see http://www.hybridcenter.org/hybrid-transit-buses.html ]

Fact: Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi last October stated this as well: Nassau County is dedicated to improving air quality and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. I am proud to say that Nassau County currently owns 330 buses and 20 sedans that run on ultra-clean compressed natural gas, and will purchase an additional 20 CNG sedans by early next year. In addition, Nassau County will purchase 150,000 gallons of ultra low sulfur bio-diesel next year to provide fuel for 100\% of our non-emergency diesel vehicles. Nassau County is well on its way to having one of the most extensive alternative fuel vehicle programs in the country. [Leading the way to cleaner air and healthier communities, the Environmental Protection Agency brought the counties of Nassau, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester together with New York City, the New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to sign an unprecedented agreement detailing the specific projects and innovations they will employ to reduce harmful diesel pollution:
http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/countyexecutive/NewsRelease/2006/10122006.html .]

Note-- this effort follows on the heels of the effort we started in April that many folks from across our county have already signed on to-- our Step It Up 2007 Petition for Dutchess County-- that called on our county government to do just this-- switching our county buses to hybrids or compressed natural gas buses; go to PetitionOnline.com/StepItUp and click on "View Signatures" to see comments of endorsement for this from Rhinebeck's Joseph Cassarino, Jane Curran, and Robby Long, Clinton's Marian Thompson, Red Hook's Patti Gordon, Michael Ignatowski, and Regina-Sophia Siegel, Poughkeepsie's Erika Rumbley, Karl Volk, and Rebecca Weinberg, Wappinger's Richard Carlson, and Pawling's Reed Asher, Layne Clark, Nikolas Colvin, Janet Couch, Jeremy Fulwiler, Patrick and Carol Glennon, Sharon Haley, Terri Moreno, Mary Myers, and Linda Puiatti; note as well-- Clinton resident Joanna Underwood, founder of Energy-Vision.org, is a nationally known expert on compressed natural gas and hybrid and has long advocated for our county bus system to switch to alternative fuel(s).

Fact: Dutchess County's average hourly concentration of ozone has been found to be much higher than even that of New York City's, according to a recent study conducted at Millbrook's Institute of Ecosystem Studies by Dr. Clive Jones, Jillian Gregg, and Todd Dawson (this was on the front page of both the Poughkeepsie Journal and New York Times just a few years ago).
[see http://Ecostudies.org/people_sci_jones_pubs.asp ]

Fact: Dr. Gary Lovett of Millbrook's Institute for Ecosystem Studies at the June 27th Cornell Cooperative Extension Environmental Program forum on air quality stated publicly that, "ozone is primarily from transportation sources" and that, "ozone creates a reaction in lung tissue that reduces elasticity, aggravating respiratory problems particularly in those already suffering."

Fact: Dutchess County air is already dangerous to breathe; the critical state of our air quality here in Dutchess is literally a life-or-death issue for tens of thousands of local residents; as it is now our county already has 26,000 asthma sufferers, 9,000 bronchitis sufferers, and 3,000 residents with emphysema; the American Lung Association of New York State has rated Dutchess County air quality a "C"; see ALANYS.org.

Fact: On June 27th, Dutchess County was one of only four counties in the state (Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia, and Greene) that the National Weather Service issued heat advisories for as well as air quality advisories; see www.weather.gov/alerts/ny.html.

Fact: Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County Environmental Program Leader Allison M. Chatrchyan made this statement in June: "Did you realize that the Dutchess County is currently classified under the "Poughkeepsie Ozone Non-Attainment Area" for the 8-hour ozone requirements under the Clean Air Act? That means the air quality in our county does not meet national standards for ozone - a major seasonal component of Smog. Excessive amounts of ozone in the air can cause damage to crops and forests, structures, and human health.The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) continuously monitors air pollution and ozone around the state; the monitoring station in Dutchess County is maintained at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY."
[see http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/dutchess/article.php?id=99 ]

Fact: Global warming and climate change is not just a planetary problem; "Since 1970, winter temperatures in the Northeast have increased 4.3 degrees; this is a tremendous change in thirty years' time", according to Cameron Wake, a University of New Hampshire scientist who contributed to a comprehensive report about climate change in the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canadian provinces, in statement he made at a conference last December about climate change in the Hudson Valley organized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

If you agree that the time is now to actively start the process of replacing our county's older buses with hybrid and/or compressed natural gas buses-- to clean up our air and save local tax dollars spent on Medicaid for asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema-- sign on to this petition and pass it along to all you know (and send a message on this as well to our county's leaders-- at [email protected]); pass it on.

Joel Tyner
County Legislator
Clinton/Rhinebeck
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
RealMajorityProject.blogspot.com
[email protected]
(845) 876-2488

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Recall this editorial from the Daily Freeman August 21st on the need for our county's leaders to get more serious about local air quality in crisis and not rest on any laurels (real or imaginary):

"Air Patrol"
http://www.dailyfreeman.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18720141&BRD=1769&PAG=461&dept_id=82701&rfi=6

While the air quality in the Hudson Valley is improving, there's no cause for
a sigh of relief.

Both Dutchess and Ulster counties this year have received nothing more distinguished
than "Gentlemen's Cs" on the American Lung Association's annual
report card for 2007, which assesses ozone pollution data for 2003-05.

For Dutchess, the grade was a marked improvement from its previous F; for Ulster,
it was a matter of holding steady.

(Ozone is not monitored in Greene or Columbia counties.)

An irritant that corrodes lung tissue, ozone is but one measure of air pollution.
But persistently high levels of ozone are serious enough to trigger federal sanctions.

It ought to. Health care providers can testify that dirty air is a serious issue
for people with emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. People
ought to be able to breath the air without being made sick.

So, during the 1990s, air quality in the Hudson Valley improved, largely as a result
of federal action, including stricter regulation of coal-fired power plants in the
Midwest, forced, in part, by a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Northeastern states.

More federal actions since, such as stricter regulation of tailpipe emissions and
removal of sulfur from diesel fuel used by trucks have contributed to the limited
success. By 2012, off-road vehicles will have to meet the emissions standards for
on-road vehicles.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is preparing a plan to be submitted
to the federal government, as required. It is expected to set new standards for
industrial and commercial facilities, including boilers, cement kilns, and facilities
for the production of asphalt and glass. Also in the line of regulatory fire will
be the composition of paving mixtures and consumer products such as paints, adhesives
and sealants.

All of this will have an economic cost, of course, but the ability to breathe the
air without incurring illness or death is a non-negotiable item.

What we don't see, however, is anything like an aggressive stance on the part
of local governments to take ownership of our dirty air problem.

It may be convenient - and oh-so-typically an Upstate mindset - to blame the dirty
air on what blows in on the wind from elsewhere. But, even if that's so, local
government should be responsible for the solution to that problem in an assertive
and high-profile way. To the extent we are contributing to our own dirty air, we
should be looking for solutions. To the extent that others are responsible, we should
be pressing politically and legally to make them accountable.

We'd like to see elected officials and administrators at the county level convene
with the best medical and academic minds in the Mid-Hudson Valley to take ownership
of both the problem and the solution to our dirty air. Our physical well-being and
economic vitality depend on it.

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From http://autos.msn.com/advice/article.aspx?contentid=4022529 ...

First GM Hybrid Transit Buses Go to Work
by Mike Meredith

New technology offers large gains in fuel economy and reduced emissions.

Passenger cars with hybrid gas-electric drive systems have been generating a tremendous amount of publicity lately, due to the technology's fuel savings and reduced emissions. Sales of hybrid passenger vehicles remain strong, with demand still growing. Amid this increasing interest comes a new product from General Motors that will put hybrid technology beneath even more people: hybrid transit buses.

Broadband Video
GM Hybrid Bus Fleet in Seattle

As part of its wide range of fuel-efficient advanced technologies, General Motors has developed a commercial parallel hybrid system that combines a diesel engine with electric motors to power transit buses.

On May 27th, 2004, at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle, GM officially delivered the first of 235 hybrid busesthe largest order to dateto Metro Transit of King County, Washington. Metro Transit ordered 213 hybrid buses and Sound Transit Regional Express ordered 22 more.

The first buses were put into service on June 5, 2004, with all 235 buses destined for King County expected to be in service by the end of the year.

Improved Fuel Economy, Lower Emissions

The hybrid buses delivered to King County are 60-foot-long articulated units assembled by New Flyer of Winnipeg, powered by the Allison Electric Drive system utilizing technology developed by GM's Powertrain division.

The hybrid system combines an 8.9-liter Caterpillar diesel engine with two 100 kW electric motors, and can deliver up to 60 percent better fuel economy than a traditional diesel bus. The GM hybrid buses produce much lower hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions than conventional diesel-powered buses. In addition, particulate emissions (tiny pieces of soot and dust) are lowered by 90 percent and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions are lowered by up to 50 percent.

The 235 hybrid buses that operate in the Seattle area are expected to save 750,000 gallons of fuel per year over the buses they will replace. Over the 12-year life cycle of the vehicles, the total savings is expected to be 8 million gallons of fuel.

If America's nine largest cities replaced their transit fleetstotaling 13,000 buseswith GM's hybrid buses, GM states the cities would save 40 million gallons of fuel each yeara greater savings than 500,000 small hybrid vehicles.

"This bus employs the most efficient hybrid architecture available in the world today, and is the first step in a larger GM initiative," said Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Powertrain. "You get low emissions, great fuel economy, smooth and quiet operation, but one other thing is acceleration," explained Stephens. "You look at 60-foot buses like this and you know how slow they typically are, but with this system the buses are 50 percent faster for acceleration than a conventional bus, so all in all it's just a tremendous balance of values for the consumers."

Another advantage of hybrid technology is a regenerative braking system, which captures and stores braking energy. "When you get into a hybrid system like this . . . every time you brake to a stop you convert that braking energy into electricity and store it in the battery, so the next time you accelerate you can use that braking energy to accelerate the bus," explained Stephens.

Lower Maintenance Costs, Quiet Operation

In addition to the fuel savings and emissions improvements, the GM Hybrid Transit Bus has operational sound levels equivalent to passenger cars. Metro Transit also expects the new buses will result in significant savings in maintenance costs.

Jim Boon, vehicle maintenance manager for Metro Transit Division of King County, told MSN Autos that they have not made any operational compromises nor any changes to the infrastructure to accommodate the new hybrid buses. "This bus just walks on and goes to work," said Boon, who expects to be able to extend oil-change intervals in the hybrid units, saving up to 32,000 quarts of oil per year, plus labor and disposal costs.

"The sound level of this bus in hush mode is about equivalent to a regular passenger car," said Stephens.

In a conventional bus, when you go to drive away you hear the diesel engine rev up and you get the noise and vibration, then you feel a strong jerk when it shifts into second gear.

"This bus is totally different," explained Stephens. "When you go to drive away you hear next to nothing. The electric drive system augments the torque required to drive away and helps the diesel engine so you get a nice, smooth, quiet drive away and there are no shifts whatsoever; it is totally smooth, more like light-rail transportation as opposed to what you conventionally think of with bus transportation."

GM says that the hybrid system being used in the hybrid transit buses today will be scaled and transferred in full-size sport-utility vehicles and full-size pickup truck in the next few years. "These buses are incredibly significant for us," explained King County Executive Ron Sims, "We wanted a 21st century bus with lower operation and maintenance costs that wouldn't be dependent solely on petroleum-based products. We wanted a bus that would literally improve our air quality in a very significant way, and we wanted a bus that is a complete technology."

"The public wants clean air and public transportation is a key component of that," Sims concluded.

GM "Road to Hydrogen" Tech Tour

In addition to the press conference officially delivering the first GM Hybrid Transit Buses to King County, the GM "Road to Hydrogen" Tech Tour made a stop in Seattle to showcase other emerging fuel-efficient technologies.

The tour included current and near-term technologies such as gas-electric hybrids; cylinder deactivation, known as Displacement on Demand; alternative fuel vehicles; and clean diesels.

The first production gas-electric hybrid full-size pickup was on display and available to drive. A Chevrolet Silverado Extended Cab, the first of 50 hybrid pickups, was delivered to Miami-Dade County in May. The trucks will be available to the public in the fall of 2004.

The hybrid system combines the 5.3-liter 5300 Vortec V8 engine with an electric motor integrated into the transmission housing. The technology makes the truck more efficient in stop-and-go traffic by shutting off the engine at idle mode, and allowing early fuel cutoff during deceleration for an improvement in fuel economy between 10 and 12 percent.

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From http://www.cleanairnet.org/infopool/1411/article-33906.html ...

Compressed Natural Gas Buses

EMISSION REDUCTION POTENTIAL

There is a large potential to achieve low emissions when CNG is used as the fuel. Some emission reductions compared to conventional diesel buses have been published in the literature. Since different sources make different assumptions regarding the exact nature of the comparison, it is essential to consult the original sources for further information.

Particulate matter (PM): reductions of 60\% to 97\% compared to conventional diesels with high sulfur fuel.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx): reductions of 25\% to 86\% compared to conventional diesel.

Carbon monoxide (CO): reductions of 52\% to 84\% compared to conventional diesel.

EXPERIENCES AND MARKET PENETRATION

Over 1.2 million natural gas vehicles - including light duty vehicles - are in use worldwide in over 40 countries with Argentina (450,000), Russia (>300,000) and Italy (300,000), Canada and USA (70,000) operating the largest fleets.

A report on the international experience with natural gas transit buses has been published by the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles (IANGV). All in all about 3,500 natural gas buses - most of them CNG - were operating in the USA in the year 2000, giving a market penetration of about 8\%. Furthermore, natural gas buses account for 18\% of current new bus orders.

The city of Beijing, China has recently introduced approximately 1500 CNG buses.

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From http://www.cleanairnet.org/infopool/1411/article-33936.html ...

CNG buses in the United States

The program supports public-private-partnerships on alternative fuel powered vehicles and supporting infrastructure. The program deals not only with urban buses, but also with private passenger cars, neighborhood vehicles and electric bikes as well as trucks.

Background information

The US Department of Energy's Office of Transportation Technologies has established the Clean Cities campaign that includes projects and conferences about alternative fuel use. General information about the Clean Cities program is available on the website www.ccities.doe.gov. The program supports public-private-partnerships on alternative fuel powered vehicles and supporting infrastructure. The program deals not only with urban buses, but also with private passenger cars, neighborhood vehicles and electric bikes as well as trucks.

A description of this program is included here because CNG technology is of major importance within the Clean Cities activities. The cities covered are

Tacoma, Washington (Pierce County Transportation Authority),
El Paso, Texas (Sun Metro Public Transportation Authority),
Rogue Valley, Oregon, served by Rogue Valley Transportation District,
Antelope Valley (near Los Angeles, California), served by Antelope Valley Schools Transportation Agency.

The respective case studies were published by the US Department of Energy (DOE). Although the list of transit bus operators using CNG is much longer - including, amongst others, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (with the perhaps largest CNG fleet of all operators), New Jersey Transit, Philadelphia, Greater Cleveland area, Santa Fe and more -, the reports referred to above provide a comprehensive overview on CNG experiences...

Institutional set-up & funding

The program builds upon partnerships between public entities and private stakeholders. The website reports about more than 4,400 stakeholders - from small local businesses and municipal governments to regional air quality organizations and national alternative fuel companies - to be members of the program. The strategy is aimed to:

form coalitions of interested stakeholders on local and regional bases,
assess the local and regional alternative fuel markets,
identify existing and potential alternative fuel vehicle fleets and
create a program plan.

This program plan has to be submitted to the Department of Energy for reviewing. The DOE will designate the city to become a Clean City. The program plan has to include the description and the commitments of stakeholders, a memorandum of understanding between the stakeholders, a necessary organizational set-up to develop and implement the program, a responsible coordinator and a steering committee. Furthermore, it needs to contain a description of the local background, the goals and objectives, and a market survey. (For details see [ w1 ].)

Funding of the various activities depends on the kind of project or program to be implemented; the program refers to existing federal and state provisions. The main federal incentives for the purchase or conversion of individual alternative fuel vehicles are federal income tax deductions between US $2,000 and 50,000 for clean fuel vehicles.

There are also federal grants oriented towards large investments such as infrastructure, and larger purchases. The website gives further information about the various agencies' incentive programs ( w1 ). The federal tax deduction for buses and refueling installations is independent if it is a purchase from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or a conversion of a vehicle. Referring to the energy policy act of 1992, the amount of the tax deduction for a large bus is US$ 15,000. The US Department of Transport provides financial support through its congestion mitigation and air quality improvement program. The US EPA may also contribute to program activities via its pollution prevention grants program which provides support if the state agencies contribute at least 50\% of the total cost of their project.

Policy approach

The Clean Cities program approach is based on local initiatives and involvement of all stakeholders. It leaves a definition of the activities to the local people, but the DOE provides guidance on the appraisal procedures for acknowledgement as an official member city. Comprehensive public participation and stakeholder meetings are required, as are a continuous information flow to all relevant parties, appointment of local coordinators, and signing of a memorandum of understanding between all partners. The lead agency requires a definite working plan with implementation milestones.

There are numerous legislative acts in the US, supporting alternative fuel vehicles of all kinds. The Clean Cities Program does not establish a new funding channel but refers to existing financing mechanisms...the program is successful because it is based upon the responsibility of public and private fleet operators for public health. Intensive press activities and special periodicals create a "group effect", initiating competition between cities for clean air success stories...

Main results and experiences

Under the umbrella of the Clean Cities program, the following case studies are especially highlighted and featured because of their use of CNG:

Antelope Valley Schools Transportation Agency transports about 35,500 students in 157 vehicles with a capacity of 78 passengers each. There are also a number of vans to transport special-education students. Each school bus travels an average of 100 miles daily from a central depot, leading to a total of about 15,000 miles per year. The buses return to the central depot at the end of the school day for refueling and maintenance. The first 16 CNG buses were delivered in 1992, with dedicated engines especially designed for CNG operation (no conversion design). The fueling station was provided by a regional gas supplier without charge. The slow-fill-facility costs US$ 300,000, the fast-fill-facility US$ 100,000 (capacity not mentioned in the publications). The CNG buses of the first generation had relatively high fuel and maintenance costs while fuel for the second-generation CNG with John Deere engines cost 13 cents per mile (compared to 16 cents for an advanced diesel bus) and maintenance only 13 cents per mile (compared to 21 cents per mile for the diesel bus). The total operating costs per mile are far lower: 26 cents compared to 37 cents per mile.

Rogue Valley Transportation District in Oregon began operating CNG buses in 1994, the purchase cost was about US$ 20,000 more than a comparable diesel bus. Fuel cost at the end of 1996 was given with 14 cents per mile compared to diesel costs of more than 15 cents.

Pierce Transit Transportation Authority in Tacoma, Washington, runs a fleet of 72 CNG buses (and a total fleet of 193) with one fast-fill-station. The CNG transit buses cost each between US$ 30,000 and 50,000 more than their diesel counterparts. Total operating costs for CNG are cited to be US$ 0.28, which is more or less equal to the average of the diesel bus fleet (US$ 0.27). The CNG fueling facility, completed in 1992, cost US$ 847,000. Because Pierce Transit has participated in an evaluation program of the Department of Energy, emission data are available. CNG buses show significant advantages in terms of PM and NOx. The average emissions were 54\% lower than those from comparable diesel buses.

Sun Metro, the Public Transportation Authority of El Paso, Texas, operates 53\% of its 240 vehicles on natural gas, both LNG and CNG. According to law in Texas, centrally fueled fleet operators with fleets of 15 or more vehicles have to switch to alternative fuels due to air pollution problems. Special funding was provided for this purpose. For the mixed operation of CNG and LNG, a combined fueling facility was built with total construction costs of US$ 3 million, of which 80\% were contributed by air pollution control programs. The CNG buses have driving ranges of about 300 miles, LNG buses a little less than 400 miles, and diesel buses a little more than 400 miles. The CNG buses cost each US$ 275,000, LNG US$ 256,000 and comparable diesel buses US$ 216,000. The cost difference between LNG and CNG is due to the fact that ten additional fuel tanks were installed in the CNG buses to bring the range up to 300 miles. A recent analysis of operating costs showed no significant difference between diesel and CNG buses. Because the lube oil in the gas buses remains cleaner than in diesels, the company intends to double the oil change interval to 12,000 miles, which would bring a cost advantage.

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From the Clean Air Initiative...

[see http://www.cleanairnet.org/infopool/1411/article-33938.html ]

Cleaner Bus Fleets in New York City

The Department of Transport's bus system carries over 114 million people annually through a mix of local and express bus services provided by seven private, franchised bus companies.

Background information

With its more than seven million inhabitants New York City is one of the largest metropolises in North America. The following information on its bus system is taken from the official New York City Department of Transport website:

The Department of Transport's bus system carries over 114 million people annually through a mix of local and express bus services provided by seven private, franchised bus companies. This system has a fleet of over 1,280 buses, making it the 9th largest transit bus fleet in the United States and Canada. There are a total of 82 local and express routes that operate in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan.

Although seven private bus operators provide the service, the City of New York owns most of the buses, subsidizes the cost of operations, and covers the general financial risks of providing bus transportation. The City also owns two bus depots.

The City of New York began subsidizing capital purchases for the private bus companies in 1974. In 1986, the Department of Transportation created a Surface Transit office to monitor the quality of franchised bus service and to manage the City, State and Federal subsidies. In 2000, the subsidies totaled US$ 151,861,090, while fare revenue was US$ 107,034,591.

Program description

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates North America's largest transportation networks and it comprises five agencies, one of which is New York City Transit. In the year 2000 it started a Clean Fuel Bus Program, which is envisaged to give New York the world's cleanest bus fleet.

Its goals are to:

1. Reduce Bus Fleet Emissions: Achieve levels below current U.S. mandates
2. Improve Service: Improve equipment reliability; Achieve quieter operation
3. Reduce the Cost of Operations: Improve fuel economy; Reduce maintenance costs; Avoid infrastructure costs

The program is technology neutral, and combines several different approaches that are expected to achieve worthwhile results: thus CNG buses are used as well as hybrid buses, and clean diesel technologies.

Institutional set-up and funding

The program is executed by the MTA agency New York City Transit, with the support, including financial, of the city government. The governor also directed the Department of Environmental Conservation to work with MTA and the environmental community to develop new emissions performance standards for all MTA buses to ensure they meet or exceed those achieved by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses. The MTA is a public-benefit corporation chartered by New York State.

The program is designed to give cost-effective emissions reductions as quickly as possible. In order to achieve this, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) 2000 - 2004 Capital Spending Plan includes US$ 304 million for Clean Fuel Programs.

In a press release featured by the EPA it is stated that a revised and expanded MTA Capital Plan is to include $250 million for the enhanced Clean Fuel Bus program. The plan provides for the purchase of 550 new clean fuel buses, requires conversion of all existing diesel buses to clean technology and calls for construction of a new heavy-duty testing laboratory to fully test all developing clean-fuel technologies for future implementation.

POLICY APPROACH

The program is an initiative of the local government in an explicit attempt to set an example of environmental standards. It takes a mostly technological approach, aiming to replace or retrofit the existing diesel bus fleet with cleaner technologies. The initiative goes voluntarily beyond mandatory emission control standards.

Technological focus

The program is "technology neutral", i.e. not fixed upon using one particular technology. Instead, various technological approaches are taken which promise to be effective, and these are also compared against each other. Three different technologies are being used:

1. Expand CNG bus operations: Purchase 300 buses and convert 2 depots to CNG

2. Expand hybrid bus programs: Purchase 250 hybrid buses; Develop hybrid articulated and coach buses

3. Expand the use of clean diesel technologies: Retire all 2-stroke diesel engines by 2003; Convert entire fleet to reduced sulfur fuel; Retrofit 3,500 buses with catalyzed exhaust filters

In all diesel bus depots low sulfur diesel with less than 30-ppm sulfur will be introduced. Given this change in diesel fuel, all diesel buses in the fleet will be equipped with some type of after-treatment technology such as CRTs, Catalysts, Urea Injection, or other devices, no later than December 31, 2003. Furthermore, it is planned to purchase 300 additional CNG buses and 250 additional hybrid-electric buses.

Hybrid Buses

1. Bus operators and passengers like hybrids quiet, smooth operation; excellent acceleration/smooth braking; "feels" like a standard bus; little or no operator training required.

2. Able to be used on all NYCT routes.

3. Bus does not roll back on hills.

4. Performance can be customized.

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From http://www.catabus.com/accngprog.htm ...

[Pennsylvania's Centre Area Transportation Authority]

CATA's Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Program: 1993 - 2006

CATA has been given recognition over the years for its strong ridership growth, its responsiveness to the local community, transportation and land use planning, service quality, partnerships with the Pennsylvania State University and local organizations and staffs involvement in the transit industry. CATA has distinguished itself in many areas, but nothing is more impressive than its full fleet conversion from buses running on diesel fuel to those powered by clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG), a product of a partnership between CATA and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.

"Last year (2001), more than 3.8 million riders traveled Penn State's University Park campus by bus. With such a high volume of traffic, the use of natural gas-powered buses is essential to a healthy and vital community. The Centre Area Transportation Authority's use of natural gas over traditional fuels was a sound environmental decision. By partnering with CATA, Penn State has been able to help dramatically limit air pollutants, reduce the number of vehicles on campus and improve the overall quality of life for our university community."

--Penn State President Graham B. Spanier in 2002

What Is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is found underground where it was formed millions of years ago as organic matter. Tremendous pressure from the overlying rock, combined with the earths heat, converted the matter into fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and natural gas. Natural gas collects in tiny holes in underground rock and is trapped under layers of solid rock. Its an organic compound made up of hydrogen and carbon and is usually referred to as a hydrocarbon. Methane is the main component of natural gas, and usually makes up over 90 percent of pipeline quality natural gas. Other hydrocarbons that may be found in small amounts in natural gas include ethane, propane, and butane.

CATAs Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Program

In 1993, CATA made a commitment to alternative fuels with a decision to replace its outdated diesel-powered fleet with buses powered by clean compressed natural gas. This action was taken in response to several national priorities: lowering operating costs for essential services, improving air quality through reduced vehicular emissions, and reducing reliance on imported fuels. CATA had an interest, too, in being able to use fuel produced locally in Centre County.

In 1994, as the first step toward fulfilling this commitment, CATA ordered sixteen CNG-powered buses from Bus Industries of America (now Orion Bus Industries) in Oriskany, New York.

In 1995, CATA, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania joined in a cooperative effort to build a CNG fueling station at CATAs administrative facility.

In subsequent years, CATA expanded its fleet three times, bringing the total number of CNG-powered buses to 44. Additionally, a fueling facility and three compressors were constructed on its property, which also provide natural gas to the nearby UniMart.

Today, with the receipt of two new 18-passenger CNG-powered Starcraft buses in January 2005, CATAs entire fleet is fueled entirely by natural gas. CATA has now been named the first transit authority on the East Coast to have replaced its fleet with one operated entirely by alternative fuel.

As a pioneer in the use of compressed natural gas buses, CATA has had a very positive experience, says CATAs General Manager, Hugh Mose. Not only have the buses performed well, but the response from the general public has been overwhelmingly favorable. In my 25-plus years of experience in public transportation, I cannot think of an initiative that has created such a positive response in the community as the introduction of CNG-powered buses at CATA.

Why Natural Gas?

Traditional transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel have been used in the United States for decades. However growing air pollution problems in many cities, combined with the desire to reduce Americas dependence on imported oil, is causing many transit authorities across the country to reevaluate their current choices of transportation fuels. Natural gas is a transportation fuel that is economical, burns cleaner than diesel and is produced right here in the United States. Not only that, much of the natural gas used in State College is produced locally in Centre County.

While CATA cannot claim that the use of compressed natural gas as a vehicle fuel has resulted in any cost savings, Mr. Mose asserts that I can say without reservation that CATAs CNG buses produce only a fraction of the emissions of the diesel buses theyve replaced.

CATA continues to partner with local businesses and organizations to explore alternative fuels. In 2004, CATA and Penn State began working with Penn States Pennsylvania Transportation Institute (PTI) on a broad research initiative aimed at researching hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles and the related benefits. As a result of the project, as many as three of CATA's buses operating on campus will be converted to ones running on a hydrogen and compressed natural gas blend. The groups involved are exploring the emergence of hydrogen as a publicly accepted transportation fuel and evaluating the costs and efficiencies of the fuel as compared to gasoline and other alternative fuels.

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From http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D04E7D8143FF93AA15753C1A9609C8B63 ...

"Replacing Yellow Buses, With Green in Mind"
By LINDA SASLOW
Published: October 29, 2006 New York Times

Many school districts are facing the same dilemma: the need to replace aging buses while the money to do so has been cut from their budgets.

But with the help of a series of grants, the Middle Country School District is not only replacing buses, it is also doing so with the environment in mind, replacing 18 of its 70 diesel buses with ones fueled by compressed natural gas. They produce fewer pollutants than diesel buses.

Middle Country, one of the Island's largest districts with 11,000 students, will become the first district in Suffolk County to use compressed natural gas buses.

Herbert B. Chessler, the assistant superintendent for business, said that Middle Country had to begin replacing buses because many had surpassed their life expectancy. By 2010, he said, 22 buses in the fleet will be more than 12 years old.

''Our options for bus replacement were to use the same diesel buses or look into alternative fuels that may present cost savings and have environmental benefits,'' he said. ''Our replacement plan depended partly on funding that was available, since it is such an expensive proposition.''

A bus run on compressed natural gas, or C.N.G., costs about $54,000 more than a diesel bus, which has a $75,000 price tag. Middle Country received federal and state financing that will help cover the difference for its first 10 buses. State grants have also been secured to help pay for a necessary fueling station and bus garage modifications.

The district has received grants totaling $820,000 toward the $1.3 million additional cost, with more likely to come, Mr. Chessler said.

State Senator John J. Flanagan, who helped secure money for the garage, said he hoped that Middle Country would provide an example for other districts.

''We have heard such impressive testimonies from municipalities that have converted to C.N.G. buses, about the reduction of emissions, that it is motivation for us to create a program that will provide money for other districts to be able to do the same,'' he said.

The Long Beach City School District is the only one in Nassau to introduce C.N.G. buses to its fleet, replacing 20 of its 50 diesel buses with those using compressed natural gas in 2004. The district received state and federal money to cover the additional costs.

Frank Fiumano, who was the district's assistant superintendent of business at that time, said the decision to switch to compressed natural gas was not an economic one, but strictly to provide a cleaner environment

''As a barrier island, we didn't want to add any more pollutants to the environment,'' he said. ''But we found that there were no cost savings. While gas is cheaper and wear and tear may be less on C.N.G. buses, there are other expenses in repairing the engines that are more costly.''

Some Island municipalities have begun using buses fueled by compressed natural gas, including the Towns of Brookhaven and Smithtown and the Nassau public bus system.

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From http://www.eere.energy.gov/state_energy_program/project_detail.cfm/sp_id=893 ...

Implementation Of Compressed Natural Gas School Bus Fleet

State Energy Program (SEP) Special Project, New York, 2005

This project helped create the first compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled school bus fleet in Suffolk County, New York. It seeks to transition 24\% of the fleet to CNG over four years, via the purchase of 18 CNG buses. The project also helped construct a CNG fueling station.

The project also supported the Town of Brookhaven's CNG infrastructure, the Brookhaven National Laboratory's CNG station, and provided fueling to town vehicles and a local CNG bus belonging to Dowling College.

Clean Cities: $175,000

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