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August 07, 2017   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Clean Diesel is the Smart Investment Choice for Buses, New York City and D.C. Demonstrate Why

While the appeal of zero emission technology is enticing, the demonstrated benefits of near-zero emissions clean diesel technology actually delivers more benefits for a fixed investment.


New York City and Washington, DC made big announcements concerning the future of their clean bus fleets and clean diesel will be the predominant technology. While a few all-electric buses will find their way into these fleets soon, the majority of the buses will be clean diesel technology deployed with the latest generation near zero emissions technology.  According to recent research, for a fixed investment more emissions can be reduced by choosing a clean diesel bus than any other available option.

On August 3rd, New York City announced that it will purchase 367 new clean diesel buses and 10 diesel-electric hybrid buses. Meanwhile, Washington, DC mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the city’s Department of Transportation will replace 40 of its aging DC Circulator buses, 26 of which will be new clean diesel and 14 will be all-electric.

Recent research confirms that when it comes to reducing emissions from transit buses, the clean diesel option may be the most cost effective investment strategy.  When it comes to reducing emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and fine particles, near-zero emissions clean diesel technology can deliver the most reductions for a fixed investment.

We can all agree that when it comes to reducing emissions from buses, replacing the oldest models with new technologies of any variety will have a greater benefit than replacing newer buses. According to recent research, replacing a bus manufactured in 2000 with a new clean diesel model can eliminate NOx emissions by 1,091 lbs. per year. The new clean diesel bus generates just 70 lbs. of NOx per year. Replacing the same bus manufactured in 2000 with an all-electric zero emissions model would eliminate NOx emissions by 1,161 lbs. Actually, the all-electric bus may generate some NOx emissions due to the source of electric power, but we will give the bus the benefit of the doubt and assume the bus has zero tailpipe emissions.

For a fixed investment, more near zero emissions clean diesel models may replace these older buses and actually generate more emission reductions than investments in the all-electric buses. According to the announcement from the Mayor of Washington, DC, the city will spend $15 million to purchase 26 clean diesel buses, or $576,000 per bus, and another $15 million to purchase just 14 battery electric buses, or $1,071,000 per bus. This does not take into account the additional cost of building expensive charging infrastructure that is not incurred with the clean diesel option.

For a $30 million investment, DC could spend all of its funds to purchase 52 clean diesel buses and eliminate 57,000 lbs. of NOx or DC could use all of its funds to purchase 28 all-electric buses and eliminate just 32,000 lbs. of NOx. 

While the appeal of zero emission technology is enticing, the demonstrated benefits of near-zero emissions clean diesel technology actually delivers more benefits for a fixed investment.



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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy
efinkin@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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