New Orleans to use biodiesel in buses

By Kris Bevill | May 14, 2008
Web exclusive posted June 13, 2008 at 9:56 a.m. CST

The New Orleans Regional Transport Authority recently announced a plan to begin using biodiesel in some of its bus fleet. The RTA currently has one test bus that is capable of running on either conventional diesel or biodiesel. By August 39 new buses will be delivered to the RTA that will use biodiesel-blended fuel. All buses will run on a B5 blend of fuel.

RTA spokeswoman Rosalind Blanco Cook said the decision was made to switch to biodiesel as part of the effort to create an "environmentally-friendly persona" for the city as it continues to rebuild after being nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina three years ago. "As you know, 80 percent of New Orleans was destroyed in Katrina and we're trying to clean up our image as we rebuild," she said. "We lost over 200 buses in the floods after Katrina."

Blanco Cook said the biodiesel project is in the procurement process. The RTA board needs to confirm it before a biodiesel producer can be contacted to secure the supply.

She said the 39 buses being added to RTA's fleet this summer are being paid for with federal money given to help replace what was lost in the hurricane. The RTA is still waiting for FEMA's assistance to help pay for additional buses. When that comes through, Blanco Cook said those buses will run on biodiesel as well. There is a one-year lag time between the ordering and shipping of buses, so it could be some time before a large portion of the fleet uses biodiesel-blended fuel, but the RTA's plan is to eventually get there.
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