CLEVELAND -- The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has been an industry leader in using new and alternative fuel, and supporting clean, renewable energy sources.

Today, the entire fleet of buses, trains and BRT vehicles runs on non-traditional and environmentally friendly fuel --

In 2013, the Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane.

In the early 1990s, RTA operated downtown loop buses -- and big buses -- powered by CNG. Because of the high cost of maintaining CNG buses, they were eventually phased out.

Here's a timeline of alternative fuels currently in use:

April 24, 2001: RTA purchases 425 low-floor 40-foot coaches for $66.9 million from North American Bus Industries (NABI). They are powered by low-sulfur diesel fuel, also known as clean diesel. The first coaches were delivered in 2002.

April 20, 2004: RTA purchases 21 low-floor 63-foot state-of-the art articulated coaches for $20.5 million from New Flyer of America Inc., for the bus-rapid transit project now operated as the HealthLine on Euclid Avenue. The price included operator and maintenance training and spare parts. The coaches operate on a hybrid-electric propulsion system.

May 15, 2012: RTA agrees to install and maintain a hydrogen fuel station and lease a hydrogen fuel cell bus, under a partnership with the NASA Glenn Research Project and subcontractors.

Jan. 22, 2013: RTA purchases up to 20 light-duty transit vehicles, for use by Paratransit, for up to $922,000, with an option to buy 80 additional vehicles within 5 years. The vehicles, powered by propane, are 2013 El Dorado CRT coaches. Each has 8 passenger spots and 4 wheelchair positions.

Nov. 19, 2013: After more than a decade, RTA returns to compressed natural gas. Total purchase: up to 240 low-floor 40-foot CNG buses from Gillig LLC, over five years. The first delivery of 60 buses in 2015 will cost $28.9 million. Before making the decision, RTA staff spent months comparing CNG to clean diesel, and determined that CNG was more cost-effective. The technology has changed greatly since the CNG buses were phased out in the 1990s.

Posted Feb. 5, 2014