The T has also initiated a new National Transit Natural Gas Coalition to pull experienced agencies and experts together to share their knowledge about natural gas fleet operations and maintenance and help those just getting started. We received great response at our inaugural meeting at the 2009 APTA annual conference, and invite anyone interested in joining to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Culver City, Calif.
Maintenance practices have changed with the introduction of alternative fuels, as well as in conjunction with implementation of advanced transit technologies such as electronic destination signs, fareboxes, AVL-smart bus systems and other operational systems required of a modern advanced technology public transit vehicle.
Culver CityBus elected to move to compressed natural gas (CNG) in 1997, and has realized significant benefits in emissions reductions and far lower fuel costs. However, moving away from traditional diesel fuel to CNG required a complete paradigm shift in maintenance practices, facilities design and operation, CNG station maintenance, operating procedures and training. This required the following:
- Education of maintenance and facilities staff on the practices necessary for safely maintaining and operating a gaseous fuel
- Re-evaluating and adjusting preventative maintenance (PM) intervals, procedures and inspections
- Increasing PM inspection times
- Inspections of the CNG fuel system (tanks, fuel lines, fittings, PRD Valves)
- Inspections of the methane gas detection systems
- Inspections of the fire suppression systems
- Inspections for leak detection during each PM cycle
- Extending engine overhaul intervals for the cleaner-burning engines.
Technician training is one of the most important of these areas. Properly trained technical staff will prove to be paramount to the “new” maintenance objective and necessary for a successful transition. Our technicians now actually prefer to work on CNG equipment because these vehicles are technically advanced and provide them the opportunity to utilize their full complement of skill sets. They also prefer to work on CNG vehicles because these engines are far cleaner, (both internally and externally) than their diesel counterparts.
Training is also important for vehicle operators so they come to understand the different operating environment of an advanced technology bus. Most of the basic functions are seamless, but there are some unique differences which operators will need to understand.
Our staff, our elected officials and the community have completely embraced our CNG alternative fuels program. Since 2004, the Culver CityBus fleet has been 100 percent CNG-powered, and the city of Culver City operates close to 60 additional non-transit light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles running on CNG. Culver City looks forward to future advancements in natural gas applications to include CNG hybrid and natural gas fuel cell technologies, and if implemented, we will in turn adjust our fleet maintenance operation to accommodate these advancements.
Manager’s Forum goes to the front lines of the transit industry to get feed-back on different topics relevant to passenger transportation — and we want to hear from you! If you have an idea for discussion or would like to voice your opinion, please contact Leah Harnack at 262.391.8770 or via email at email@example.com.