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November 1, 2013

Maine transit agency spurs wider adoption of alt fuels

by Steve Linnell - Also by this author

As the largest year-round fixed-route transit provider in Maine, the Greater Portland Transit District (METRO) is committed to building a transit fleet that is 100% powered by alternative fuels.

METRO’s reach is considerable. The transit agency provides more than 1.4 million rides per year with its fleet of 32 buses — all of which are equipped with bike racks — and offers nine routes throughout Portland, South Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth. Thirteen of its buses run on compressed natural gas (CNG), and the agency plans to add five more CNG buses to its fleet in January 2014. As METRO grows its CNG fleet, its cost-saving and emission-reduction benefits grow as well.

METRO was an early stakeholder of the local Clean Cities coalition, now known as Maine Clean Communities. Through Clean Cities funding, METRO secured seed money in 2001 to build a CNG fueling station and later to cover the incremental cost of its first five CNG buses, which replaced five aging diesel buses. The agency used FTA funding to upgrade its storage and maintenance facilities in preparation for housing and repairing CNG vehicles.

Maine Clean Communities also helped Portland Public Schools (PPS) acquire its first CNG school buses. PPS currently runs 13 CNG buses, which fill up at METRO’s fueling station and are maintained at METRO’s garage. Tapping into METRO’s infrastructure has allowed PPS to transition to CNG without incurring costly capital expenditures associated with building its own fueling and maintenance facilities. Like METRO, PPS plans to replace its entire diesel fleet with CNG buses. 

As METRO grows its CNG fleet, its cost-saving and emission-reduction benefits grow.

As METRO grows its CNG fleet, its cost-saving and emission-reduction benefits grow.
These two forward-thinking fleets have been running CNG vehicles and sharing a CNG fueling station for seven years. The pioneering efforts of METRO and PPS set an excellent example for others to follow. In the coming year, two or three more CNG stations will be built in Maine, spurred by fleet demand.

METRO deserves recognition for its leadership and perseverance — in the end, the investment is paying off.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "5 Easy Tips to Make Public Transit Safer and Greener."

Steve Linnell

Director, Transportation / Energy Planning, Greater Portland Council of Governments


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Author Bio

Gary Thomas

President/Executive Director, DART

Gary Thomas is the president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, covering a 700-square-mile service area with bus, light rail, commuter rail and paratransit services.


Dave Walsh

Project Manager, Sellen Sustainability

Registered Architect and a Project Manager Walsh, works with agencies, design and construction teams to implement measurable sustainability in transit projects.


Jennifer Turchin

Project Manager, Sellen Sustainability

Turchin is a licensed architect with expertise in all phases of architectural services.


Pamela Burns

Communications Supervisor, North Central Texas Council of Governments

Communications Supervisor, North Central Texas Council of Governments


Matt Stephens-Rich

Clean Cities Ohio

A graduate student at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University, Matt Stephens-Rich is interning at Clean Fuels Ohio as part of the Clean Cities Workforce Development Program.


Richard Battersby

Director, Fleet Services at UC Davis

Richard Battersby is the director, fleet services, at University of California, Davis. He also serves as coordinator of the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition.


Steve Linnell

Director, Transportation / Energy Planning, Greater Portland Council of Governments

Steve Linnell is Director of Transportation and Energy Planning at the Greater Portland Council of Governments and Coordinator of Maine Clean Communities.


Yliana Flores

Alamo Area Clean Cities Coordinator

Yliana Flores is the Alamo Area Clean Cities coordinator for the Alamo Area Council of Governments Natural Resources Department, where she has worked on transportation issues since 2010.


Colleen Crowninshield

Manager, Tucson Regional Clean Cities Coalition

Colleen Crowninshield has worked for the Pima Association of Governments since 1994, where she has served as coordinator for the Tucson Clean Cities Coalition since 2002.


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