How Renewable Natural Gas Could Be Impacting Your Commute

As the world moves into an environmentally conscious state, mass transportation follows suit. The current need for affordable renewable natural gas (RNG) arises almost as fast as fuel prices. Clean Energy Fuels Corp. recently acquired contracts to distribute its Redeem ™ renewable natural gas (RNG) to various power fleets. The decision will influence multiple industries, including transit, airports, and trucking. 

In fact, Big Blue Bus (BBB), a transit department in Santa Monica, CA, is already accustomed to such sustainable practices. The City’s Big Blue Bus public transportation fleet uses renewable natural gas fuel. With an operating fleet of roughly 200 vehicles, the BBB successfully moves over 61,000 riders every day. 

According to Clean Energy’s website, The RNG derives from a renewable biomethane that seizes and processes the naturally occurring biogas. By making use of organic landfills and dairy plant waste, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has already cited a 70 percent reduction in emissions. As more fleets make the shift to this cost-effective RNG, the environmental advantages will increase.

The expected performance and cost savings give a reason for more fleets to make the transition to natural gas-powered vehicles (NGVs). Research by ACT notes that Class 8 natural truck retail sales are up by 43 percent as of May. 

What Sustainable Transportation Looks Like

The BBB’s extended contract with Clean Energy estimates a yearly average use of 2 million gallons of fuel. If the figures gathered by Clean Energy are correct, BBB’s decision to go green is equivalent to taking almost 2,000 cars off the roads annually. 

Committing to sustainable transportation provides cleaner air for people residing in and near Santa Monica, California. The use of Redeem minimizes greenhouse gas, which ensures that the City is doing its part when it comes to climate change issues.

Clean Energy’s natural alternatives are impacting the way people travel to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). With rumors of less congested rides to and from LAX during ABM Aviation’s recent large remodeling project, things are expected to get better.

In fact, Clean Energy has noted that the call for compressed natural gas buses has increased. The following areas are placing new buses into service in 2019:

– Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority,

– Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

– City of Phoenix

– Foothill Transit

– Fresno Area Express

– City of Lodi

– Translink

Areas subject to immense smog, like Los Angeles County, will greatly benefit from buses with close to zero emissions and natural gas engines. 

Lasting Impacts for Urban Travel

 A past Well to Wheels analysis conducted by TIAX, LLC noted that natural gas offers a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions for light-duty models. This notion is further backed up by an INFORM Report, which cites that CNG engines reduce noise and odor. 

Densely populated cities will see the difference in evaporative emissions with engines such as these. Economically, CNG vehicles offer a monetary advantage for consumers. According to a chart provided by SoCalGas, the retail price comparison between gasoline, diesel, and CNG is significant.

Sources: Gasoline prices acquired from an annual average of U.S. Government Energy Information Administration’s Weekly California Regular Reformulated Retail gasoline prices. Diesel prices acquired from an annual average of U.S. Government Energy Information Administration’s Monthly California No. 2 Diesel Retail Sales. CNG prices acquired from an annual average of SoCalGas monthly public CNG station prices.

Consumers who choose their vehicles based on horsepower ratings will be interested in the comparison between NGVs and their gasoline-powered competitors. In comparison, premium gasoline is 91 octane, which cannot stand against the natural gas octane approximation of 130. Based off the data, NGVs generally have an extended engine life because of their clean-burning properties.

With the future of travel rearing slowly making its way onto busy streets, consumers are going to see the benefits of natural gas through renewed air quality and high performing vehicles. Only time will tell how much of a significance such a transition will have on the transportation industry. However, based on the data above, it appears that all of the findings will likely be positive.


Act Research: Class 8 Natural Gas Truck Retail Sales Up 10% M/m, 60% Y/y, and 43% Ytd in May Jennifer McNealy

“Big Blue Bus Raises the Green Standard with Renewable Natural Gas.” Accessed August 12, 2019.

Ditzel, Ken, and Thomas C. Donovan. “Natural Gas Prices May Trend Up Only by 2020.” Natural Gas & Electricity 32, no. 3 (2015): 11–16.

INFORM Report: Greening Garbage Trucks: Trends in Alternative Fuel Use, 2002-2005*

Photo Credits: Zephy Photography

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