May 2, 2001

The CTA Board Wednesday approved a contract to purchase 14 cargo vans, including eight fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG), and six by gasoline. The CNG vans will meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) rating, and the gasoline-powered vans will meet the EPA's Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) rating. The vans will be used by CTA maintenance personnel to service facilities throughout the CTA system.

The contract was competitively bid and was awarded to Northwest Ford & Sterling Truck Center, of Franklin Park. Under the terms of the $334,750 contract, the vans will be equipped with the various racks, generators, bins and partitions required to meet their service needs.

"As a responsible corporate citizen, the CTA is committed to doing its part to reduce emissions into the environment," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "The purchase of new CNG vans is another way the CTA is testing new technology to help improve air quality."

The CNG vans, which will enter service later this year, will replace eight vehicles that are 5 to 15 years old and have been operated 100,000 miles or more using unleaded gasoline. The CNG vans are expected to release up to 90 percent less tailpipe emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles. With their arrival, almost 20 percent of the CTA's utility van fleet will be composed of CNG vehicles. Fifteen similar vans were purchased in 1998. The CNG program is one of several initiatives taken by CTA in recent years to enhance the environment.

Advancements in technology are now also helping reduce engine emissions in CTA's diesel bus fleet. This year the CTA began operating the first of 469 new low-floor buses from Nova BUS Corp., which will replace buses that have been in service for 15 years or more. This is expected to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide by 61 percent, hydrocarbon and particulate matter by 92 percent, and carbon monoxide by 97 percent per bus.

The CTA already uses #1 grade diesel fuel, which is a cleaner-burning grade of fuel than the #2 grade used by other transit properties. In partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, the Illinois Corn Growers Association and others, the CTA also took part in an OxyDiesel Fuel Demonstration Program to study the use of a mixture of ethanol, diesel fuel and a blending agent as another possible method of reducing emissions. The study concluded that OxyDiesel fuel can successfully be used without any modifications to CTA vehicles or facilities, and that engine performance is similar to that of using #1 diesel fuel.

Last spring, the CTA and Ballard Power Systems concluded a two-year demonstration program involving the world's first fuel cell buses in regular service. The knowledge gained from this program could bring the production of fuel cell buses closer to commercial viability and the CTA is following these developments closely.

CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "The CTA continues to use technology to achieve air quality improvements which translate into quality of life improvements for residents of our region. Following the lead of the City of Chicago, which is a national leader in environmental initiatives, we continue to seek innovative ways to reduce emissions."

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