The P3 model could lower the risks preventing some transit agencies from switching to compressed natural gas, or CNG, for their bus fleets.
CNG is emerging as a cleaner, cheaper alternative to traditional diesel, according to a Mass Transit article written by Alexander Heckler and Diana Mendez, procurement attorneys with Llorente & Heckler, P.A.
But many transit agencies do not have the immediate funding to invest in CNG, and traditional, lowest-cost procurements may not find contractors with appropriate expertise.
“In an era of tight government and agency budgets, P3s offer transit agencies the ability to benefit from a CNG program promptly, even when immediate funding to pay the up-front costs of the CNG infrastructure may be unavailable,” they wrote. “A partnership allows transit agencies to focus on their operations while relying on the expertise of the private company who is best positioned to design, build, maintain and operate a reliable and efficient CNG program.”
Several transit agencies have entered into “design, build, operate and maintain” P3s for CNG fueling and maintenance stations, including California’s Orange County Transportation Authority, which is using CNG for 95 percent of its buses. Miami-Dade Transit in Florida is soliciting proposals to help convert its 817 buses to CNG over the next five to seven years.
About 40 percent of buses in the U.S. now run on alternative fuels, and about half of those use CNG, according to the authors.