Bus rapid transit—which operates like a subway system, using a small number of dedicated intersecting roads or lanes for high-speed buses only—can address many problems at once. This system can provide public transit to get commuters out of their cars, reducing traffic congestion. This would also reduce oil use and greenhouse gas pollution. And construction of BRT systems cost 30 times less than a subway system. If the buses were powered by compressed natural gas, they would further reduce both oil use and pollution.
The House bill requires a study of heavy-duty vehicles and the potential for natural gas use. The study must make recommendations for additional incentives to increase natural gas use. The NAT GAS Act allows state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds for natural gas-fueled heavy-duty vehicle projects. The Senate energy bill should include provisions that incentivize metropolitan transit systems to develop BRT systems that employ natural gas buses.
For more on this topic see:
- Natural Gas: A Bridge Fuel for the 21st Century, by John Podesta and Timothy E. Wirth.