TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Passengers may notice a change in several of the Sun Tran buses they ride, the fleet will soon have 24 buses that use compressed natural gas, according to a recent release.
These new buses use a newer CNG engine, which produces lower emissions than standard fuel and older CNG buses; they will replace the 14-year-old CNG fueled vehicles that are currently being used.
"This investment demonstrates the City's and Sun Tran's commitment to our community's sustainability," said Kate Riley, General Manager of Sun Tran, in the release. "We encourage individuals to support these efforts by riding public transportation, even if it's just once a week."
Other enhanced features of the new buses are low-floor, ramps and kneeling features to allow for more convenient boarding of passengers with disabilities; as an added safety feature the buses will have on-board cameras.
The new buses were purchased with funding from the Federal Transportation Administration, the City of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority. Each CNG bus cost just over $512,000 each, compared to the hybrid technology buses that are $610,000 each. The buses are manufactured by Gillig Corporation in California.
According to the release a majority of the buses will go into service by the end of August with an additional five buses arriving in December.
This is just the latest in Sun Tran's mission to help with emissions, for nearly 20 years the company has experimented with alternative fuels. In 1987, a 35-foot GMC bus was converted to use both CNG and diesel fuel, it was one of the first in the U.S. said Sun Tran officials. By 1997 half the fleet used CNG and in 2005 bio diesel fuel was introduced and by 2006 the fleet was using only cleaner burning fuel alternatives.