The Phoenix City Council has given approval for the Phoenix Public Transit Department to buy buses that use compressed natural gas: a big change for Phoenix, which now has the country’s largest liquefied natural gas bus fleet. The new 120 Valley Metro buses will use CNG, which will save the city a net $4 million.

The change will keep the Phoenix Public Transit Department in line with a majority of the nation’s transit properties, said Neal Young, department director.

CNG buses are cheaper because of the vehicle’s manufacturing process and the dense fuel can be delivered via pipeline to bus fueling sites. LNG must be super cooled and delivered via truck.

Phoenix’s initial investment in LNG buses and fueling equipment came in the 1990s with a state-mandated conversion from gasoline and diesel to alternative fuels. As part of its new long-term fuel strategy, the city will upgrade its LNG fueling sites to dispense CNG without having a total refurbishment of its bus facilities.

The 120 new CNG buses will replace the same number of retiring LNG buses and will be procured for $61 million from a regional cooperative purchasing agreement with the Regional Public Transportation Authority. The new buses will arrive between the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014.

After delivery, Phoenix’s 465 Valley Metro buses will be 65 percent natural gas (CNG and LNG), and 35 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel, both of which are considered clean-burning fuels.

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