On Wednesday, August 6 the Birmingham-Jefferson Transit Authority (BJCTA), along with the Mayor of Birmingham, held a ribbon cutting at Central Station to introduce the first arrivals of the City’s 30 new compressed natural buses (CNG). In December 2012, the BJCTA Board of Directors approved the purchase of 30 New Flyer Xcelsior Buses, jump-starting MAX’s transition to an all compressed natural gas transit fleet.
MAX Transit buses operate 4.1 million miles annually and currently receives a refund of $0.50 per gallon purchased. The cost of natural gas is approximately $3 per gallon cheaper than diesel fuel. With gas prices soaring, the advantage the new CNG buses have is that compressed natural gas is abundant and domestically produced; therefore, it offsets importing petroleum, making public transportation environmentally responsible and extremely affordable for most.
Ann August, Executive Director says, “We believe presenting the City with the new CNG buses will offer a benefit to all. The CNG buses have little fuel emissions and lower maintenance cost, so we can focus funding on other important areas while remaining environmentally responsible within our servicing community.” She also stated that the upgrades to the fleet could truly offer a benefit to all, especially to students in the Hoover service area, where the Hoover School Board recently made the decision to terminate the school bus service.
Part of MAX Transit’s financial challenges is directly related to the fleet condition and repair costs. The current fleet has higher operating and maintenance costs. By 2014, 38 buses (47%) of the MAX Transit fleet will be over 11 years old, making it one of the oldest fleets in the country.
Additional CNG vehicles will be received three at a time until all are delivered by the end of September 2013.