A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on April 24 marked an important milestone for Florida CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) became the first public transit agency in Florida to transition its fleet to CNG vehicles and have a newly constructed fast-fill fueling station.
The transition to an alternative fuel is another step in HART’s commitment to the environment. CNG vehicles are cleaner, safer and quieter. These vehicles run on fuel that is produced right here in America, helping to reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Peoples Gas worked closely with HART and the other project partners behind the scenes to provide the natural gas for the CNG vehicles needs of the fleet. That included a five-month construction project to extend a natural gas main more than three miles to reach the facility’s maintenance yard and bus garage.
According to Mike Suarez, Chair of the HART Board of Directors and Tampa City Councilman, HART has purchased 28 new CNG vans and plans to add 22 CNG buses next year. This is the first phase of a total planned fleet of 229 CNG vehicles.
“The use of more natural gas to fuel fleet and passenger Florida CNG vehicles,” said Patrick Sheehan, director of Florida’s Office of Energy, “will lead to a cleaner Florida environment.”
Switching from diesel to natural gas will save HART $2.5 million in fuel costs over the next nine years. The Florida CNG conversion will also cut greenhouse gas emissions from its buses and vans by 252 tons per year.
“Peoples Gas sees this as a partnership to benefit not just those organizations that are directly involved, but our community as a whole,” said Keith Gruetzmacher, senior manager at Peoples Gas over alternative fuel vehicles. “We’re committed to providing reliable, environmentally-friendly, economical natural gas products and service throughout Florida.”