Image by Anthony Ramos via Flickr
For the next two weeks UTA will be testing two CNG buses, one from Metro in Los Angeles and the other from the Phoenix area. The Salt Lake Tribune has a suprisingly well done article about the test (and just to note, I am not putting down the writers at the Trib, but the fact that the newspaper industry has cut to the bone in its attempt to survive so they know longer have people dedicated to subject and thus well informed about what everything they write about):
UTA tests natural gas buses
As the article pointed out UTA had 5 CNG Orion V buses purchased in 1992 and retired a couple of years ago. Also pointed out in the article is the buses were essentially failures in our market but those were early generation CNG buses and a lot has a changed in the last 18 years so it will be interesting how today's CNG buses will perform.
UTA also should be congratulated in looking at alternatives for the current fleet of diesel buses considering the continued high cost of diesel (of course that situation could reverse and has in the past).
The question is will the cost be examined. They do mention that the price of a CNG bus is more than a diesel bus but could be made up over the length of ownership (approximately 12 years). However, not just UTA but we as Americans are horrible at looking at the actual cost of a product.
Now if you asked the average person on the street what the difference between the price of a product and the cost of the product they would think there is no difference and maybe that is why we are so willing to buy so much cheaply made crap at stores like Wal-Mart.
However, the when we discuss cost we are talking about how much it will cost for the lifetime of the product. I having studied it recently but a few years ago the cost to maintain CNG buses was higher than the cost of diesel buses. However, as CNG buses have become more common the cost difference may be getting closer together.
Also for anyone who complains about the seats in UTA buses (I know there has to be some out there), I hope they get to ride the lovely anti-vandal seats in the LA Metro bus (its been several years since I been to Phoenix so I am not sure about the seats in those buses). I think the seats in the ex-San Jose UTDC cars are better than the ones Metro orders. I found them to be the most uncomfortable transit seat I have ever rode on and considering how many different transit systems and buses I have rode on over the years that is saying something.
Another annoying thing about LA Metro buses that will hopefully be deativated when the bus is here is the television monitors in the bus. Several of the buses I rode on in Los Angeles most recently had monitors that would broadcast commercials and general information about the transit system. Sorry, when I get on a transit bus or train I do not want to look at a stupid television monitor. Albertson's (the original Albertson's company) installed a ton of lcd's throughout their 5600 South and 900 East store at the checkouts and in the produce department. My response was to stop shopping at the location except in extreme emergencies.
Heck, I don't even watch the television at home for the most part. I have not had cable in 6 years (so long comcrap) and its been at least two months or more since I even bothered to sit down and watch something on television. I guess if your addicted to have the stupid television on then having the monitors on the buses are no big deal but to me I rather have peace on my transit ride.
The buses will only be here for two weeks and in service only one week so get a ride on them while you have the chance.