Among the items approved thus far by the Metro Board of Directors at their meeting on Thursday:
•(Item 16) A motion by Board Members Antonio Villaraigosa, Gloria Molina and Richard Katz asking Metro CEO Art Leahy to prepare a master plan for Union Station, which Metro is in the process of purchasing. The motion asks Metro to conduct a design competition for architecture firms to “produce conceptual level design and visioning for a world-class Union Station inter-modal station.”
•(Item 10) The Board approved soliciting bids for 700 new compressed natural gas buses to replace 700 40-foot buses that are due to be retired from service. A news release on this item is posted after the jump. In addition, the Board approved a motion by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich create a pilot program to buy 30 zero-emission or super low emission buses.
Metro to bolster its clean-air bus fleet with 700 new state-of-the-art 40’ buses and launch a zero-emission pilot program
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) approved today the solicitation of up to 700 CNG, state-of-the-art buses that will replace retiring 40’ buses rotating out of service.
The board also approved a proposal by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich to set in motion a pilot program to obtain and operate up to 30 zero-emission or super low emission buses.
“This begins an historic transition of the Metro bus fleet to zero-emission buses, such as electrically powered vehicles,” said Mayor Villaraigosa in a media briefing following the board meeting. “The long-term goal is to attract a green bus manufacturing to Los Angeles to create local jobs,” he said.
The action will provide Metro with a four-year window to test zero-emission prototype buses prior to the next replacement bus procurement in 2016.
Metro will shore up its bus fleet through 2015 with up to 700 conventional low emission 40-foot advanced transit buses fueled by compressed natural gas. The buses will be rotated into the fleet during the next 3 or 4 years to replace older buses retiring from service. Typically Metro maintains buses for 12 years up to 15 years, and mileage may reach anywhere from 600,000 to 700,000 miles.
The board action allows Metro CEO Art Leahy to purchase the buses using a “best value” criteria for the order rather than using a conventional low-bid procurement approach, which would not allow for developing new technologies that could help reduce bus fleet operating costs, improve fleet emissions and increase bus fleet reliability.
The value of advanced design features such as lightweight vehicle construction, the use of corrosion resistant materials and advanced construction techniques will be a factor in the solicitation process, which intends to provide MTA with highly durable vehicles that will help reduce maintenance and operating costs.
Funding for the purchase will be derived from federal, state and local sources.
Metro runs the second largest public transit bus operation in the United States with nearly 400 million annual passenger boardings, and its buses log just under 1.5 billion miles a year.
Metro operates 2,221 CNG buses and six gasoline-electric hybrid buses in its fleet.
The last diesel bus in the massive 2,227 vehicle fleet directly operated by the Metro was retired in January 2011, making Metro the first major transit agency in the world to operate only alternative clean fueled buses.
The clean air bus fleet is just one aspect of Metro’s green program which also includes widespread use of solar panels at bus maintenance facilities and other energy saving devices to cut energy costs, recycling, and building and retrofitting new transit facilities with sustainable materials and practices. Installation of solar panels, LED lights and other energy saving features and recycling saves Metro well over $1 million annually in operating costs. The solar panels alone reduced Metro’s carbon footprint by 16,500 metric tons in 2010, the equivalent of removing 3,200 private cars from Los Angeles area streets and freeways.