Methanol Transit Bus: Research and Development to Operational Reality 911632
The purpose of this paper is to document the development of the Southern California Rapid Transit District's (SCRTD) Methanol Demonstration Project and the integration of methanol buses into the existing diesel bus fleet.
On June 12, 1989 the first three of thirty neat methanol powered transit buses entered revenue service in Los Angeles. In December 1990 the 30 bus demonstration project logged its one millionth mile.
From an operational standpoint, particular emphasis has been placed on the development of methanol subsystem components and related equipment. In addition this paper will cover methanol fueling facilities, safety requirements, and the future development necessary to integrate this alternate fuel technology into everyday operations at the SCRTD.
Additionally, the development of safety and training programs must parallel the development of the technology. SCRTD has identified three areas of technical training which must be completed before this project can make a smooth transition from research and development to an operational status. Initially, safety training must address material safety which would include, fire and spill procedures, worker methanol vapor and formaldehyde exposure levels, as well as appropriate and effective safety equipment and handling procedures. Secondly, detailed orientation programs have been developed to respond to various work group requirements. Transportation (bus operators) and bus Maintenance personnel, along with other interested groups, such as the Los Angeles Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol, all received training tailored to their specific needs. Finally, a detailed and comprehensive mechanical troubleshooting and repair curriculum plan was needed. This plan was designed to incorporate all engine and vehicle manufacturer training recommendations and was developed to meet SCRTD's maintenance requirements.
The SCRTD's methanol bus demonstration program has been an important element in the development of reducing harmful exhaust emissions from urban transit buses. The efforts of the SCRTD have taken theoretical concepts and made them into a practical means of operating and maintaining a fleet of methanol buses.