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MTS Retires Last Diesel Fleet


In his first State of the County address, Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher laid out a sweeping agenda that he acknowledged might be labeled as too ambitious Thursday night.

With the county still dealing with a year-long pandemic that has been devastating to many residents and the economy, Fletcher announced several proposals and reforms that focus on social and juvenile justice, job creation, immigration, the environment, behavioral health and addiction recovery.

“The State of our County is resilient,” he said in the address, which was broadcast remotely from the county’s Emergency Medical Operations Center. “And together, we are ready to rise. Ready to rebuild. Rebuild our economy, our children’s education. Ready to restore. Restore our faith and trust in one another.” Continue reading.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) hit a major clean-air milestone today by officially retiring the last of its diesel buses and adding two more electric buses to its fleet. The agency has a long history of adopting clean fuel technology and is on a path to convert its entire bus fleet to zero emissions by 2040. “MTS retiring the last of its diesel buses from its fixed-route fleet is a monumental leap forward in air quality,” said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board Chair and Chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “It represents our commitment to environmental justice, sustainability, air quality and to being one of the leaders nationally in achieving these ambitious environmental standards.”

Replacing the last diesel buses will be 24 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) express commuter buses built by Motor Coach Industries (MCI) – one of the world’s largest independent global bus manufacturers. “Not only do the new MCI CNG buses offer an improved riding experience for our customers, we get substantially better air quality results from them as well,” said Sharon Cooney, MTS Chief Executive Officer. “There will be a 100% reduction in particulate matter, and a 98% reduction in NOx emissions over the diesel counterparts.”

The new express commuter buses will offer 57 comfortable forward facing seats, are designed for highway speeds, and offer touring class comfort and safety. The vehicles will operate out of MTS’ East County Division in El Cajon, serving passengers on the Rapid Express 280 and Express 290.  “For nearly three decades we’ve led the transition to CNG propulsion, having delivered nearly 14,000 CNG buses and coaches across North America. Today, we’re proud to support the San Diego MTS in achieving this low-emission milestone.

With clean, safe, and readily scalable technology, CNG emits significantly less nitrogen oxide than diesel engines – lending immediate impact on improving air quality,” said Chris Stoddart, President, New Flyer and MCI. “MTS has long pioneered sustainable mobility, having been the first agency in America to adopt CNG into its fleet nearly 20 years ago. Congratulations on yet another leap forward to cleaner air, sustainable transit, and more livable communities.”

At the same time as retiring the diesel fleet, MTS also added two GILLIG zero-emission battery electric buses, upping the agency’s total to eight. MTS began its zero-emission bus pilot program in 2017 and intends to complete a full transition to 100% zero emissions fixed-route vehicles by 2040. The two California-made GILLIG buses are the first of seven to be delivered to MTS. GILLIG’s zero-emission battery electric buses are equipped with the state-of-the-art Cummins electrified powertrain and are supported by a nationwide service network. Built on GILLIG’s proven Low Floor platform, the buses ensure parts and training commonality with MTS’s existing GILLIG fleet. Equipped with six onboard batteries, each bus has a battery capacity of 444 kWh, providing an estimated range of 140 miles. The buses utilize energy recovered from a regenerative braking system and feature a direct-drive traction motor with peak torque of 3500 Nm (2,582 lbs.-ft.). “We are excited to partner with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System as they work towards their Innovative Clean Transit goal of a 100 percent zero-emission fleet by 2040,” said Bill Fay, GILLIG Vice President of Sales. “The new battery-electric buses support MTS’s commitment to excellent service and cleaner air for the communities they serve, and GILLIG is proud to be a part of this step forward.”