Author: U.S. Gain
U.S. Gain

Cherriots' Transit Buses Drive Emission Reductions with RNG

The PDF version of the below case study is available here.

Cherriots, otherwise known as Salem Area Mass Transit District, is a public transit authority, servicing 19 Oregon municipalities—inclusive of Salem, Keizer, and the mid-Willamette Valley. Since 1979, they’ve been connecting people with places through safe, friendly, and reliable public transportation services. With a vision to make a positive difference by enhancing community livability through innovative, sustainable regional transportation options, Cherriots is pursuing emission reduction strategies to drive cleaner, today into tomorrow.

Cherriots’ Emissions Challenge:

In 1998, Cherriots began fueling their fleet of transit buses with compressed natural gas (CNG). However, to minimize their transportation-related emissions and associated costs, they sought out alternative solutions that would pair well with their operations while supporting their bottom line. With shopper shuttles, fixed-route, para-transit, and regional buses comprising their fleet, Cherriots knew they had to manage their carbon footprint—but also acknowledged it would likely come at a steep cost should they do a complete fleet transition. From new vehicle purchases, fueling station reconfiguration, and driver training, not only would a transition require additional spend, but time and potential disruptions to operations and business cycles.

Alternative Fuel Provides a Decarbonization Solution:

After learning renewable natural gas allowed for revenue recovery through Oregon’s CFP and the federal RFS and required no upgrades to their CNG buses or fueling station, thanks to RNG being able to be injected directly into the natural gas pipeline, they were sold. From there, Cherriots went to market with an RFP solicitation—crafted from various discussions with leading RNG providers. After being reviewed by their evaluation committee, U.S. Gain was awarded the contract: based on overall scoring and credit generation value over the contract term.

RNG Results in Fleet Emission Reductions:

Serving as a drop-in solution to their existing CNG bus fleet, Cherriots currently has 34 active fixed-route buses and four contingency buses fueled by RNG—with an additional five on order for late 2022. Collectively, these buses have driven over 2,500,000 clean miles since December 2019. In addition to Cherriots’ continued commitment to purchase CNG buses, they’re also preparing for delivery of battery electric buses (BEBs) in late 2022—and, evaluating the role hydrogen refueling may play. Ultimately, public demand and funding availability will dictate if their future fleet size expands or contracts.

Next Steps in Alternative Fuel Adoption:

Fleets across sectors have adopted RNG to facilitate GHG emission reductions throughout their operations. With proven vehicle technology, established fueling infrastructure, and supply security from new projects consistently coming online (at agricultural facilities, wastewater treatment plants, and landfills), fleets can benefit from a seamless transition to alternative fuel. U.S. Gain can craft a customized fueling portfolio for your organization—and leverage our proprietary RNG supply from our development projects and offtake agreements.

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