PHL Airport shuttle fleet goes green with compressed natural gas

November 6, 2018. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) has switched from diesel to Clean Energy’s compressed natural gas (CNG) as part of a sustainability initiative to reduce toxic emissions, decrease noise volume, and lower fuel costs.

   First Transit, the largest private-sector provider of mobility solutions in North America and provider of shuttle bus services at PHL, signed a 7-year contract with Clean Energy for an expected volume of 2.5 million GGEs to power its 38 natural gas transit buses. The shuttle fleet accommodates three main routes at PHL—employee, cargo, and long-term economy parking—that traverse a total 3.5 million trips per year.

   “Airport transit vehicles operate in confined areas, primarily parking lots, so carbon emissions and noise pollution have a greater impact on the passenger experience,” said Raymond Blethen, Northeast director of operations, First Transit. “The airport was seeking to adopt alternative fuels and environmentally-friendly vehicles, so it converted 100 percent of its fleet to natural gas.  The CNG-fueled shuttle buses run 90 percent quieter than diesel, lower CO2 emissions by 20 percent, and have no fumes.”

   “With CNG our fuel costs are more stable than diesel, the maintenance is a lot cleaner, and it improves the reliability of vehicles in the winter,” said Blethen. “From a safety standpoint there is no spillage, so unlike diesel we never have to shut down.”