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LAX to Purchase 30 More Alternative-Fuel Buses and Trucks; Cracks Down on Hotel Shuttles

6 December 2006

The Board of Airport Commissioners has approved the purchase of 30 alternative-fuel buses and trucks for use at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as part of its ongoing replacement of existing gasoline-powered vehicles when they reach the end of their useful service life in the airport’s fleet.

The Board approved the purchase of 21 compressed natural-gas transit buses; three liquefied-petroleum-gas (LPG), light- and medium-duty refuse trucks; and six LPG stakebed trucks.

The 21 buses will be purchased for $7,885,648 from North American Bus Industries, Inc. Reynolds Buick Pontiac GMC Trucks, Inc., will provide the refuse trucks at $265,337.51 and the stakebed trucks at $383,228.78.

Officials at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the City department that owns and operates LAX and three other Southern California airports, believe that alternative-fuel vehicles are important elements in meeting California’s future energy needs and plans are underway to convert all of LAWA’s fleet to alternative-fuel use.

LAWA currently has more than 500 alternative-fuel vehicles in its fleet powered by liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas, electric, solar power and hydrogen fuel cell.

Separately, the Board adopted policies to require hotel courtesy shuttles serving LAX to reduce the number of shuttle vehicles and trips they make to the airport.

LAWA officials said improvements in air quality and traffic congestion can be achieved by mandatory reduction in the number of hotel shuttle trips and by conversion of new or replacement shuttle buses to alternative fuel.

The new program calls for the reduction of the permitted number of trips made by hotel courtesy shuttles in two stages, using the number of trips in 2004 as a benchmark. By May 2007, the number of trips will have to be cut by 15& of their 2004 total. By January 2008, trips will have to be cut by 35% of the 2004 total. Penalties per trip will be assessed on each trip where the hotel fails to meet the required reduced percentage.

Additionally, courtesy shuttles serving the hotels must convert to alternative-fuel vehicles. Hotels are allowed to sign contracts with consolidators who provide shuttle service to patrons of more than one hotel.

Officials expect 39 of the 46 hotels in the LAX area will be affected by the program. The remaining seven hotels operate less than the minimum of 1,000 annual trips and are exempt from the program’s mandatory consolidation and penalties. These smaller hotels still will pay a standard fee per trip unless they reduce their trips by 35% and convert to alternative-fuel vehicles.

LAWA is requiring the mandatory program and setting penalties for non-compliance to ensure participating hotels are not at a competitive disadvantage. Hotel patrons using the consolidated courtesy shuttle service do not change vehicles or transfer luggage.

The action followed a successful voluntary effort begun last April, where nine of 46 airport-area hotels consolidated their courtesy shuttle operations by using a single company that transported guests between LAX and two or three hotels on fixed routes. These nine hotels account for 50% of the 600,000 annual vehicle trips between LAX and airport-area hotels, primarily along Century and Sepulveda Boulevards. Their voluntary participation cut the number of shuttle trips to and from LAX by 55%, well above the program’s requirement of 35%.

The mandatory hotel shuttle consolidation program implements a provision of the Community Benefits Agreement approved by the Board of Airport Commissioners on 6 December 2004, as part of the LAX Master Plan Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program. The agreement mandates that 50% of all operator fleets must be converted to alternative fuel within five years and 100% within 10 years.

December 6, 2006 in Fleets, LNG, LPG, Natural Gas | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

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Good. Years ago they used Chrysler EV minivans for a while as a trial. Anything to reduce polluting traffic around LAX is great. It becomes one big vehicle merry go round when it is busy.

Reducing congestion due to ground transportation at airports is a good idea, but giving it a green tinge with alternative-fuel buses isn't going to make much of a difference. The NOx emissions from a few planes taking off dwarf those of all the cars, shuttles and buses put together.

Frankfurt/Main (Germany) has long used special tractors that lift up the nosewheel of a plane and tow it out to the runway. This is far more fuel-efficient than having the planes taxi out there under their own steam.

Take-off itself could be assisted with a longer, much milder version of the catapults used on aircraft carriers, powered using ultracaps and a linear electric motor rather than steam. The objective would be to save expensive jet fuel, not on reducing the length of the runway.

A third fuel saving strategy would be to use a parachute assist with braking, rather than rely on thrust reversal alone. A ground crew would quickly collect the fabric and the plane would be equipped with a replacement during refueling.

The latter two ideas might require some structural changes to the nose gear and airframe of civilian jet planes, in addition to upgrading runways and operations at major airports.

Of course the ground transport is a small % vs. the air traffic, but these are good steps, nonetheless. Good to hear what they are doing in Frankfurt AM is what Sir Branson has been asking for worldwide. Anyone know how many other airports are so fuel efficient?

Reducing congestion due to ground transportation at airports is a good idea, but giving it a green tinge with alternative-fuel buses isn't going to make much of a difference. The NOx emissions from a few planes taking off dwarf those of all the cars, shuttles and buses put together.

Funny story, a few years ago the Scandinavian airline, SAS, pledged to make a commitment to the environment by recycling free on-board newspapers... LOL

It almost made the stench of kerosene 1 km away from my local (very small) airport seem less noticeable...

Compared with fuel dumping all other preventable airport emissions are close to nil:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_dumping

Andrey,

The source you provided suggests that fuel dumping is a rarely-employed emergency procedure which does not occur on a day-to-day basis by any stretch. It makes no sense to count it within an airport's regular emissions profile.

Furthermore, the source also suggests that fuel dumping, when performed, takes place at a significant altitute -- far from the airport proper. Thus, even when it happens, it does not affect the air quality in the immediate environment of the airport, and likely does not directly affect the nearby urban area.

Bringing up fuel dumping in this context is the ultimate red herring.

At any rate, the benefits of this program are really going to be felt on the traffic congestion level, which is often pretty bad at LAX. That has environmental consequences, but I think we can all recognize the fact that emissions from normal jet operations overwhelm the ground vehicle emissions in this context. As far as using alternative fuels, the benefit there is providing market support for alternative vehicle builders and fuel suppliers, to help them gain proficiency and by doing so hopefully enable them to increase volumes and cut prices, so that real users can get in on the action as well. That's the theory, anyway.

NBK:

You got it right. My post was intended to be red herring.

20 ton fuel dumping is quite regularly occurring in major airports, on low altitude, over big city, unreported, unaccounted, and unabated. 20 ton kerosene (long life atmospheric HC, precursor to photosmog) is roughly how much 2 million cars and SUVs emit NMHC during driving 100 miles each.

Try to advocate this.

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