Tucson's Sun Tran unveils new CNG bus fleet

Posted on June 26, 2014

The City of Tucson and Sun Tran unveiled the first of 24 new
Sun Tran buses utilizing compressed natural gas (CNG) built by Gillig Corp.

Once all are received by January 2015, these buses will replace 14 year-old CNG-fueled vehicles in Sun Tran’s fleet, decreasing the average age of the fleet from 5.97 years to 5.02 years.

RELATED: Sun Tran adds hybrids, taps biodiesel

These buses utilize a newer CNG engine, which produce lower emissions than standard fueled vehicles and older CNG vehicles. The newer technology of the EMP cooling system utilizes eight electric fans in place of an engine-driven fan, which allows for better fuel economy and runs
the system at optimal temperatures to ensure for more efficient cooling of the engine.

All of the replacement buses are low-floor, offering ramps and kneeling features for the convenient boarding of passengers with disabilities, as well as an on-board camera system for added passenger safety.

Purchased with funding from the FTA, City of Tucson and Regional Transportation Authority, the CNG-fueled buses cost just over $512,000 each. The most recent bus purchase received in FY 13 cost just under $610,000 for hybrid technology.

Manufactured by Gillig Corp. of Hayward, Calif., the majority of the buses will be accepted and placed into service by the end of August, and an additional five vehicles will be received in December.

Sun Tran and the City of Tucson began experimenting with alternative fuels more than two decades ago. As early as 1987, Sun Tran converted a 35-foot GMC bus to use both CNG and diesel fuel. This was one of the first such buses in the country. Over the years Sun Tran continually increased the number of buses in the fleet utilizing cleaner burning fuels, and by
1997, approximately half the fleet used CNG. In 2005, biodiesel fuel was introduced, and in 2006 Sun Tran’s entire fleet utilized only these cleaner burning fuels.

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