New, 'Green' COTA Buses Are Quieter, Cleaner - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

New, 'Green' COTA Buses Are Quieter, Cleaner

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Quiet is not usually one of the words people downtown would associate with a bus. 

But the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), is changing that thinking with a new fleet of cleaner, quieter buses. 

If you were out and about Monday, you may have caught a glimpse of or rode on one of the 30 new COTA buses. They are gray-colored buses that have a taller hump on top for fuel storage. 

The decreased engine noise is nice, but there are a lot of other benefits of the new bus as well.

The new, green member of the COTA fleet is here -- the CNG, or compressed natural gas bus.  The buses operate much like standard diesel buses with different fuel, and they are the future of the COTA fleet. 

According to Brian Hoyt with COTA, "Compressed natural gas burns cleaner. It's a more efficient fuel, and it has a cleaner exhaust, and the fact that it costs about one-fourth the cost of diesel fuel, it just seemed like that was the right way to go." 

With gas costs ever increasing, COTA spent $9.3 million on fuel last year. That 75 percent savings a CNG bus provides would equal a drop of almost $7 million a year with a full CNG fleet. 

Hoyt also said that the buses will also not have that diesel smell.

The less offensive scent and noise are not only major benefits for the rider, but all for the community and the environment as well. 

In fact, the riders who spoke to NBC4 Monday seemed to enjoy the new buses. 

"It's pretty much the same, you know. It rides a little smoother. It's not so loud," said Mychael Williams.

"[It's] great.  It's great for the environment. It's great for the riders.  It's convenient. It's convenient for everybody, the taxpayers, the customers," said Dora Imes.

The new CNG bus costs about $470,000, or about $39,000 more than the standard diesel bus. But that additional cost is offset with a federal clean fuels grant. 

There have been added costs with the new buses, like upgrades to the McKinley Avenue facility for refueling of the buses. COTA plans to continue to roll out the buses at a rate of about 30 per year, as the older buses are ready for retirement. 

The roll-out will last about 12 years, at which point the whole fleet will be CNG.

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