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July 23, 2018   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Relieving Traffic Congestion One Bus Trip at a Time

Transit agencies looking to modernize and expand their fleet to meet mobility needs will discover the benefits of the latest advanced diesel technology that provides essential services with near zero emissions helping to move people while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Are you stuck in traffic? Are you fed up with congestion and wish there was a better way to get around? Well, you’re not alone. A recent poll confirms that 8 out of 10 Americans support expanded public transportation. This is up from 6 out of 10 Americans just a few years ago. When it comes to public transportation, most commuters take the bus and there’s a very good chance that your bus is powered by diesel, thanks to the combination of efficiency, reliability and proven performance as the workhorse of public transport. That's why transit districts continue to invest in the new generation of diesel as part of their sustainable transport plans.

Communities across the country rely on the diesel powertrain to provide essential commuting services. Of the powertrain options available today, diesel and diesel-electric hybrids power almost 90 percent of America’s bus fleet, according to an analysis of vehicle in operation data for 2017 provided by IHS Markit. One in three of these diesel buses is powered by the latest near-zero emissions advanced diesel technology. Research conducted by the Clean Air Task Force confirms that these new technology diesel buses result in about the same level of emissions as a natural gas powered bus. 

Transit Breakdown

The Mineta Transportation Institute released the results of a new survey that indicates that 80 percent of Americans support expanded investments in public transportation. This up from 68 percent just a few years ago. Perhaps growing support for public transportation is a result of worsening traffic congestion. Inrix, a leading Big Data provider for urban mobility and traffic managers, lists five U.S. cities in the top 10 worst congested cities in the world.

As more Americans explore public transportation options, they will soon discover the bus. In the U.S., public transportation is dominated by the bus.  According to the Federal Transit Agency, American commuters took 4.9 billion trips on a bus in 2016 making the bus the most popular mode of public transportation. In second place is heavy-rail, dominated by AMTRAK service, at 3.9 billion trips in 2016.

As more commuters look to the bus as a transit option, transit agencies may need to replace aging buses and expand their fleet and transit agencies will find a proven partner with the latest generation of advanced diesel engines. Thanks to diesel’s cost effectiveness, more older buses can be retired and replaced with new advanced technology diesel models than other alternatives available today. Replacing older buses with new diesel models helps guarantee essential city services but also reduces emissions. The Clean Air Task Force found that, for a fixed investment of $10 million, more older and higher emitting buses may be replaced with the new advanced technology diesel options than with a natural gas model.

When compared with emerging technologies, like all-electric options, new diesel buses still come out ahead. Recently, the Mayor of Washington, DC announced a bus replacement project for the city’s Circulator service. According to the announcement, the city will spend $15 million to purchase 26 advanced technology 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 diesel option. While the all-electric bus may be exciting, relaying on the expense options means many transit districts may need to leave many older and higher emitting buses in service.

Other transit districts are relying on diesel technology to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and boost sustainability credentials. San Francisco’s MUNI system is powering more the 600 transit buses with renewable diesel fuel that is capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent. In doing so, the transit district reduced 62,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than twice the greenhouse gas reduction attributable to the roll-out of all-electric cars in San Francisco’s fleet.

More American’s looking for transit alternatives will undoubtedly come across the bus as a mobility option. Transit agencies looking to modernize and expand their fleet to meet mobility needs will discover the benefits of the latest advanced diesel technology that provides essential services with near zero emissions helping to move people while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 



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

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