By Andrew Littlefair on

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is switching its entire fleet of shuttle buses from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG) as part of a sustainability initiative to reduce toxic emissions, decrease noise volume, and lower fuel costs.

First Transit, the largest private-sector provider of mobility solutions in North America and provider of shuttle bus services at PHL, signed a 7-year contract with Clean Energy for an expected volume of 2.5 million GGEs to power its 38 natural gas transit buses. The shuttle fleet accommodates three main routes at PHL—between employee, cargo, and long-term economy parking lots— that traverse a total of 3.5 million trips per year.

“We applaud First Transit for helping Philadelphia International Airport obtain its sustainability goals by transitioning to a green fleet powered by natural gas,” said Chad Lindholm, vice president, Clean Energy. “Fueling with CNG will help to substantially reduce toxic emissions at the airport and make travel more pleasant for its staff and visitors.”

Airport transit vehicles operate in confined areas, primarily parking lots, so carbon emissions and noise pollution have a greater impact on the passenger experience,” said Raymond Blethen, Northeast director of operations, First Transit. “The airport was seeking to adopt alternative fuels and environmentally-friendly vehicles, so they converted 100 percent of its fleet to natural gas.  The CNG-fueled shuttle buses run 90 percent quieter than diesel, lower CO2 emissions by 20 percent, and have no fumes.”

“With CNG our fuel costs are more stable than diesel, the maintenance is a lot cleaner, and it improves the reliability of vehicles in the winter,” said Blethen. “From a safety standpoint there is no spillage, so unlike diesel we never have to shut down.”

“Working with Clean Energy has been a positive experience. We have a dependable station with the ability to fuel an entire fleet that can handle the load of all our vehicles at the airport,” said Blethen. “The airport counts on us to run vehicles 24/7 365 days a year. Whether it be a holiday or snowstorms, employees still need transport. Airports put a huge demand on vehicles, but by running a natural gas fleet we don’t need a huge spare ratio because they’re very dependable.”

PHL Shuttle