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June 13, 2018   |   The Toronto Star


Schaeffer: Renewable diesel has multiple benefits

RE: Diesel buses purchase not the better way for TTC, June 11

If Matt Tomich and Toronto residents think they will gain many more emission reduction benefits by replacing older buses with new renewable natural gas (RNG) models as opposed to new diesels, they may be in for a surprise. There is very little discernible difference when it comes to emission reduction when replacing older buses with either new diesel or RNG models. In fact, the RNG option may cost the TTC much more, given the relatively higher price of an RNG bus and the much higher price for installing refuelling infrastructure.

If the debate is more about sustainability than about emission reductions, natural gas isn’t the only fuel with a renewable counterpart. TTC should look to renewable diesel fuel. Businesses and municipalities across California have been using renewable diesel fuel capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by upwards of 80 per cent. The cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and many others are now using this fuel exclusively in city-owned fleets of heavy-duty trucks, buses and equipment. It’s working: San Francisco’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency is using renewable diesel fuel exclusively in 632 transit buses to reduce emissions by more than 10,000 tons in a single year!

The main purpose of public transportation is to get more people out of their cars, reducing single occupant vehicle trips and congestion. Keeping fares low, expanding routes and improving service are the primary methods of making public transportation a success. Diesel technology offers the greatest combination of benefits — reliability, low-cost operation, and now near-zero emissions technology — that enable public transit agencies like TTC to achieve these multiple objectives.

For nearly the same emissions performance but at a much lower cost, TTC should move forward on new-technology diesel buses.

Alan Schaeffer, executive director Diesel Technology Forum, Frederick, Md.

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