by Max Brantley
The Central Arkansas Transit Authority today turned down North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays’ pitch to drop a purchase of eight “clean diesel” buses from Gillig Corp. in favor of ordering buses that run on compressed natural gas. The vote to rescind the diesel purchase was 3-8, with the three in favor all North Little Rock reps on the authority.
Another motion, to delay the diesel order, failed 2-9.
Betty Wineland, director of CATA, said Arkansas will proceed with the diesel order and should have the buses by the end of the year, giving CATA for the first time in three decades a fleet in which not a single bus is over the presumed useful life of 12 years old.
The city of Little Rock, the major financial supporter of CATA, resisted the CNG idea because of initial capital costs, which would have required borrowing money, and unanswered questions about the cost of buses and operating costs. Also, supporters of the diesel purchase said the clean diesel engines compare favorably on air emissions with CNG buses.
CATA will talk to Metroplan about a regional study on use of all types of alternative fuels for buses and other fleets.