April 2013

Central Ohio Moves Away From Diesel to CNG

by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is in the midst of a $76 million renovation of its McKinley Avenue Fixed-Route Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility as part of its transition from ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel to CNG.

The facility is scheduled to begin operations this spring, and the agency just received its first 30 Gillig CNG buses in February. The new buses will be integrated into the fleet’s rotation once the necessary vehicle maintenance training and certifications are complete.

In 2011, COTA conducted a study to consider potential benefits of switching to CNG to power its fixed-route bus fleet. The study compared costs of CNG versus diesel fuel, operational and maintenance expenses, market forces and infrastructure costs. In keeping with COTA’s “Going Green” program, environmental impacts, particularly emissions, were also evaluated. COTA officials also visited and studied other public transit systems operating CNG fleets.

Later that year, the agency made the decision to move forward with the transition to CNG and updated existing plans for the renovation of the McKinley Operations facility to include CNG compatible modifications.

The transition to a completely CNG fleet will be a 12-year process that will occur as coaches are retired and replaced and additional coaches are purchased as part of COTA’s ongoing service expansion program. The transition will also require remodeling with upgrades for CNG at several COTA facilities including a second CNG fueling station at its Fields Avenue Fixed-Route Bus Facility.


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