General Manager Sam Desue Jr. and Oregon State Sen. Michael Dembrow give a thumbs up after fueling a TriMet bus with renewable diesel. - Photo: TriMet

General Manager Sam Desue Jr. and Oregon State Sen. Michael Dembrow give a thumbs up after fueling a TriMet bus with renewable diesel.

Photo: TriMet

TriMet announced all of its buses running on routes throughout the tri-county Portland metro area will be powered by renewable diesel. TriMet is using a blend of 99% renewable diesel and 1% petroleum. The change in fuels will reduce the carbon dioxide equivalent emissions coming from an individual bus by nearly 99%.

When factoring in the upstream emissions of making and delivering the R99 to TriMet’s facilities, the move to R99 will lower the greenhouse gas emissions from TriMet’s fixed-route bus fleet by about 61% compared to the biodiesel blend we had been using.

“Whether riding on a TriMet bus, driving behind it or walking or biking nearby, you’ll notice a big difference with our buses now running on cleaner-burning renewable diesel,” said Sam Desue Jr., TriMet GM. “As Oregon’s largest consumer of diesel before today, we’re not only lowering TriMet’s greenhouse gas emissions, we’re leading the state’s transportation industry toward a cleaner air future right now.”

TriMet’s switch to a renewable diesel blend is combined with its switch to renewable electricity in June 2021. The combined efforts have reduced the company's carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 63% in six months.

TriMet said it expects to avoid 149 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year, which is the equivalent of taking 14,693 cars off the road.

“For Oregon to step up, be a model, and convince the rest of the nation to join the fight against climate change, we need to get serious about reducing our transportation emissions, the largest source of emissions in this state,” said Michael Dembrow, Oregon State Sen. “To do that, we need more people to be using transit, and we need to make sure that the energy used to run those buses and trains are coming from renewable sources. By switching to renewable electricity and renewable, green diesel, TriMet is making a huge difference in moving us forward. I’m so proud of this decision.”

The renewable diesel is chemically identical to petroleum, but it contains nearly no fossil carbon and performs better in cold air. It is made from 100% renewable and sustainable resources like natural fats, vegetable oils, and greases.

TriMet said it plans to add 24 more of these zero-emissions bus in our fiscal year 2024 that begins July 2023.

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