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All for a good cause

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

msubiria@news-daily.com

Eighteen new compressed natural gas (CNG) shuttle buses were driving through the north and south terminals of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, on Tuesday morning, according to a spokesman for the airport.

The vehicles service the airport's Park-Ride lots, and replaced buses that were fueled by gasoline, said DeAllous Smith.

According to Katie Stanciel, aviation parking manager at Hartsfield-Jackson, the airport has a total of 40 shuttle buses in its Park-Ride fleet.

Smith said the shuttle buses transport passengers to and from the more than 8,000 on-site Park-Ride spaces, located in three close-in lots at the airport. Passengers are able to use these parking spaces at a cost of $3 per hour, or $9 per day, he said.

"Moving toward an all-CNG-fueled shuttle bus fleet is another step in reducing Hartsfield-Jackson's overall carbon footprint, and it brings us closer to the ultimate goal of having 12 percent of [Atlanta's] fleet drive on alternative fuels," added Louis Miller, aviation general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson.

"We're helping Atlantans breathe a little easier...these CNG shuttles won't interfere with the fast reliable service that our Park-Ride customers have come to expect," said Miller.

Compressed natural gas vehicles produce up to 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions and discharges fewer toxic and carcinogenic pollutants, compared to vehicles running on gasoline with ethanol, explained Smith.

The compressed natural gas vehicles also produce up to 28 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than diesel-powered vehicles, reduce nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions by more than 9,200 pounds annually, emits reduced particulate matter and eliminates evaporative emissions, said Miller.

The aviation general manager added that each new shuttle will provide a fuel savings of approximately 45 cents per gallon, or $3,726 per year.

Furthermore, said Smith, the new shuttle buses are offering more space to passengers. Aviation Parking Manager Stanciel added that the 18 shuttle buses are Ford E-450s, compared to the vehicles they replaced, which were Ford E-350s.

Miller said another feature included in the new shuttles is light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, which are lights that have a longer lifespan.

The compressed natural gas shuttle buses became available to passengers on March 1, airport officials said.

According to Miller, the total cost of the 18 shuttle buses came to approximately $1 million. The cost for the compressed-natural-gas conversion for each bus was $21,500.

The airport was able to convert its 18 shuttle buses, through a grant of more than $400,000 it received from the Clean Cities Atlanta Petroleum Reduction Program, said Smith.

Miller added that the airport will monitor this new program, and will consider converting more Park-Ride shuttle buses in the future.