Metro can go two ways at once in choosing L.A.’s new bus fleet

By Denny Zane, Los Angeles Daily News, Guest Commentary. 

When the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board of directors meets on June 22, it will face an important decision that will affect all of us years from now. On that day, board members will determine whether the nation’s second-largest bus fleet in North America should run on electricity or on renewable gas.

With advances in technology, Metro’s board doesn’t have to pick one over the other because both are viable options and both are super clean — and even staff at Metro recognize this reality. Recently, employees at Metro found that near-zero-emissions compressed natural gas (CNG) buses fueled with renewable gas and battery-powered electric buses will help make Metro’s 2,472 buses the cleanest bus fleet in America, based on an internal analysis.

However, there is an important fact the staff report does not discuss: Metro using both technologies will also be the best way our transit system can help accelerate the cleanup of the far larger and far dirtier heavy-duty truck sector.

Electric power will likely work on short-haul applications, like drayage trucking. But we will need near-zero-emission natural gas on medium and long-haul applications — or live with toxic diesel pollution much longer than necessary.