July 9, 2020. This June, Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance (CNGVA) participated in a panel discussion – Renewable Natural Gas and Transit – as part of the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium’s Future of Transit Mobility conference.

According to CNGVA, public transit agencies in Canada may be collectively holding their breath in the face of COVID-19’s impact on the economy and society. The organization believes that Canada’s NGV industry should be taking a close look at the potential implications of a “new normal.” This second edition of the CUTRIC conference was held using an online platform – now part of the new normal – but it does beg one question: If Canadians are travelling less for work and to work, what will their future public transit needs look like?

CNGVA said that perhaps this is a question we are not ready to contemplate. CUTRIC’s mandate – to promote new low-emissions technologies and use of big data – points to a couple of tensions between big public transit infrastructure in the form of commuter trains and small private transit in the form of autonomous vehicles and ride hailing apps. While Canadians are uncertain about future attitudes and comfort with all manner of public spaces – including private and public transit vehicles – a core need for public transit is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

The NGV organization said that there are several key advantages that natural gas vehicles and the use of renewable natural gas (RNG) can offer public transit agencies in uncertain times. First, a selection of several sizes and types of transit vehicles that allow for maximum flexibility for future requirements. Second, a proven low-cost technology that offers significant emissions reductions – including reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Third, significant flexibility to increase GHG reductions – with RNG – which can be blended and adjusted to suit budgetary or other constraints. They assured that complete package of NGVs with RNG offer public transit agencies an opportunity for local waste-to-energy conversion – supporting broader community sustainability objectives without limiting their ability to deliver effective and flexible public transit.