Move to private fuel provider six years ago allowing Agency to invest in existing services
An RTA campaign launched nearly six years ago to save the Agency gas money is paying off.
The Fuel Task Force Committee --- which began in 2012 and spearheaded by former RTA Board member and San Jacinto City Councilman Andrew Kotyuk along with current Board members County Supervisor Marion Ashley, Jeff Comerchero and Ike Bootsma --- cleared the path for how business is done at RTA when it comes to buying natural gas; participating in state and federal fuel credit programs; and working with a private contractor to manage the whole operation.
One of the biggest accomplishments of the committee was the decision in 2013 to purchase gas from an alternative fuel source instead of the public utility, the Agency’s fuel provider since the early 1990s. The move to GHI Energy, a Houston-based business that purchases and sells energy-related credits and petroleum products, helped RTA save approximately $3 million over the past four and a half years. The savings amounts to roughly $600,000 annually saved for taxpayers in fuel costs, allowing the Agency to keep fares low and invest in existing services.
Last week, RTA’s Board of Directors approved a new three-year agreement with GHI Energy to continue managing the Agency’s fuel program. The agreement is expected to save the Agency even more money moving forward.
“The efforts we put forth six years ago are starting to bear fruit,” said RTA Chairman of the Board Art Welch. “Not only are we saving tax-payer dollars, we are also investing in a world-class public transportation system.”
This isn’t the first time RTA has pushed the boundaries of how it fuels its fleet. In 1988, prior to today’s laws that regulate bus emissions, RTA was among the first transit systems in the nation to operate low-emission methanol buses. In fact, when RTA’s Riverside headquarters was built in 1986, it included a separate fueling system for alternative clean fuels. The drive for cleaner fuel didn’t stop there. In 2001, the Agency took its biggest step by replacing its entire fleet of diesel buses with compressed natural gas buses. Today, RTA’s employs nearly 175 CNG vehicles, including buses, trolleys and company vehicles.
Last year, the Agency unveiled its first near-zero natural gas vehicle. The 40-foot bus is powered by an engine that has a 90 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions and 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, compared to RTA’s already clean-burning engines.
RTA officials say the partnership with GHI is a win-win situation.
“This innovative partnership is helping RTA save money and take advantage of plentiful supplies of natural gas,” Welch said. “It’s also part of a larger mission by RTA to better meet the needs of the customers and put a product on the streets that we can be proud of.”
RIVERSIDE, CA — March 5, 2018