CATA Celebrates the Retirement of its First CNG-Powered Buses

May 27, 2015

The Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) is recognized nationally for numerous accomplishments, but none as significant as its clean natural gas (CNG) program.

In 1993, under the direction of then General Manager Kevin Abbey and the CATA Board of Directors, the authority began the steps needed to convert its entire diesel-fueled fleet into one operating on clean compressed natural gas. As the first steps toward fulfilling this commitment, a cooperative effort was made between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania to build a CNG compressing, storage and dispensing station at CATA’s administrative facility (which cost in excess of $1.0 million), and the authority ordered sixteen 40-foot CNG-powered buses from Bus Industries of America (now Orion Bus Industries) in Oriskany, New York.

Several more purchases of natural gas vehicles over the years enabled CATA to retire the last of its diesel-powered buses in 2010. At that time CATA became the first transit system on the East Coast to have converted its entire fixed-route fleet to alternative fuel.

On May 29, the last of the first Orion buses will be retired. CATA will celebrate the milestone from 1 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., at its customer service center. All are invited to take one last look at CATA’s iconic Orion buses on display next to one of its newest New Flyer Xcelsior buses. Plus, there will be a live remote with WOWY 97.1FM, giveaways, snacks and more.

“The retirement of CATA’s first CNG-powered vehicles is significant as it illustrates CATA’s ongoing commitment to the environment and to the community,” notes Jacqueline Sheader, CATA public relations manager. “The authority’s move from diesel to natural gas arose from the acknowledgement of the fact that natural gas is produced locally and nationally, there was a cost savings to be had in times of increased petroleum prices, and that being as environmentally aware and friendly was simply the right thing to do.”