Based on its population of more than 6.5 million people, Dallas-Fort Worth
(DFW) is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country. Based on land area, it’s the second largest. Regional planners are always looking toward alternative modes of transportation to efficiently and effectively move residents to their destinations. This is particularly important considering that 10 counties in the DFW region are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency as nonattainment areas for ground-level ozone.
In operation since 1984, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) covers 700 square miles and serves 13 cities — Addison, Carrollton, Cockrell Hill, Dallas, Farmers Branch, Garland, Glenn Heights, Highland Park, Irving, Plano, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park. Every day, DART moves roughly 400,000 DFW residents to their destinations via 600-plus transit buses and 72 miles of light rail.
DART first introduced 110 liquefied natural gas buses in 1998.
DART has a long history of successfully implementing alternative fuels. The transit agency first introduced 110 liquefied natural gas (LNG) buses in 1998. As DART expanded, so did its alternative fuel use — the transit agency placed its second LNG bus order later that year. Due to environmental considerations, DART continued to modernize its fleet and retrofitted 360 of its older diesel buses to run on ultra-low sulfur diesel.
DART is currently building four fueling stations to support its growing fleet of CNG buses. The agency anticipates completing its transition in 2015.
In 2013, DART began its transition to compressed natural gas (CNG) with an order of 459 31- and 40-foot buses — one of the nation’s largest CNG bus orders. These new buses, the first of which commenced service on Jan. 28, 2013, cut fuel costs by nearly two-thirds. DART also ordered 123 smaller CNG buses that seat 14 to 17 passengers. The agency is currently building four CNG fueling stations to support these buses. DART anticipates completing its transition in 2015.
These efforts point to DART’s leadership in reducing petroleum use in the region. In 2013, the transit agency reduced its petroleum consumption by more than four million gasoline gallon equivalents and lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 8,500 tons. DART expects these numbers to grow in the future — it has applied for Federal Transit Administration funding for nine all-electric buses. The future is definitely looking cleaner for the Big D.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "50 years of public transit milestones and memories."
GRTC is a member of the Virginia Clean Cities (VCC) coalition, which over the years has hosted a variety of workshops, webinars and other training opportunities for fleets interested in transitioning to CNG. Another coalition member — the City of Richmond — inaugurated its fleet of CNG refuse haulers in 2011, which set the stage for GRTC’s transition. View the YouTube video to see how VCC helped the city implement its CNG fleet.
A long-time champion of cleaner, greener technologies, the Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) has provided public bus service to California’s Western Riverside County since 1977. RTA’s service area is among the nation’s largest, covering 2,500 square miles. The agency operates more than 160 buses on 36 fixed routes and eight commuter routes, 98 dial-a-ride vehicles, and 10 trollies.
Building new maintenance facilities for transit agencies are rarities, but when agencies do build them, it’s critical to design and build to the highest performance possible — these facilities and their efficiencies will live on for decades. As part of preserving limited revenue, agencies are focusing on how efficiently design facilities can help the bottom line.
Switching our bus fleet to compressed natural gas from liquefied natural gas and diesel was a carefully weighed decision at DART. But in the end, it was a no-brainer: go with the fuel source that will promote clean air while saving taxpayers $120 million in fuel costs over the next 10 years.
Maintenance facilities are the operational backbone of transit agencies, helping wash, clean and maintain thousands of buses, railcars and ferries each and every day. This regular maintenance makes them huge consumers of water and energy (and money). Many cities across the country are mandating transit agencies create more efficient facilities not only as good stewards of the environment, but also to help the bottom line.