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MARTA to buy diesel, gasoline as conversion to CNG bus fleet continues

MARTA has replaced many of its older, diesel-burning buses with CNG-fueled vehicles that emit less tailpipe pollution. Credit: Kelly Jordan

By David Pendered

MARTA is in the market to buy diesel fuel and gasoline for its fleet that uses both fuels as MARTA continues a planned, and ongoing, transition to a fleet powered by CNG and, potentially, electricity.

MARTA is seeking to sign a contract of up to five years for diesel and gasoline to power its fleet of revenue and non-revenue vehicles. Credit: Kelly Jordan

According to an invitation for bids MARTA released Wednesday, the fuel contract could extend for up to five years. Terms call for an initial contract length of three years, followed by two years with a one-year renewal option in each year.

The fuel contract underscores MARTA’s continuing reliance on diesel and gas to power its fleet of rubber-tire vehicles. The fleet is comprised of vehicles that transport passengers for revenue, and vehicles that do not produce revenue.

About 38% of MARTA’s mobile fuel usage consists of diesel and gasoline. The remaining 62% of mobile fuel usage is CNG. The numbers have held nearly constant from 2012 through 2018, according to MARTA’s 2019 Sustainability Update.

MARTA consumed a total of about 8.9 million gallons of fuel in 2012, and about 8.8 million gallons of fuel in 2018, according to the report. CNG usage is expressed as diesel gallon equivalents.

MARTA’s shift to CNG buses is now coupled with a potential shift to electric vehicles – which would be battery-powered and charged with electricity created outside metro Atlanta. MARTA expects to have six electric buses on the road in 2021. The $2.6 million purchase was funded with a federal grant, according to the 2019 Sustainability Update.

In its fuel contract, MARTA is seeking the standard types of diesel and gasoline that have been designed to lower emissions, compared to previous formulas. The formulas are to change during the Spring and Summer seasons of non-attainment, according to the IFB. Warmer temperatures foster air pollution. The two types of fuel being purchased are:

MARTA has replaced many of its older, diesel-burning buses with CNG-fueled vehicles that emit less tailpipe pollution. Credit: Kelly Jordan

  • Ultra low sulphur clear diesel;
  • Unleaded gasoline blended with 10% ethanol.

A significant volume of delivery trucks will be required to fill MARTA’s fuel storage tanks. A snapshot of the delivery demands shows:

Diesel must be delivered in loads of at least 7,500 gallons to the following sites. The estimated annual quantity of gallons follows the name of the location:

  • 1600 Perry Blvd., Atlanta – 235,000 gallons;
  • 3385 Hamilton Blvd., Atlanta – 2 million gallons;
  • 277 Laredo Drive, Decatur – 280,000 gallons.

Diesel must be delivered in loads of at least 2,00 gallons to the following sites:

  • 1040 Brady Ave., Atlanta – a 40,000 gallons;
  • 2775 E. Ponce de Leon Ave Decatur – 20,000.

Gasoline must be delivered in loads of about 2,000 gallons to the following sites:

  • 1600 Perry Blvd., Atlanta – 75,000 gallons;
  • 3385 Hamilton Blvd., Atlanta – 150,000 gallons;
  • 277 Laredo Drive, Decatur – 100,000 gallons;
  • 1040 Brady Ave., Atlanta – 1.75 million gallons;
  • 2775 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta – 95,000 gallons.

CNG has become increasing popular as a fuel because it emits less tailpipe than diesel or fuel. However, the environmental impacts of drilling for natural gas can be problematic.

The position of the incoming Biden administration on fracking is to be determined as his top lieutenants establish a policy, according to comments in a report by crf.org. Biden has said no new permits for oil or gas drilling on federal lands and waters should be issued.

 

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David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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