In celebration of Earth Day, EMBARK today unveiled its new Clean Natural Gas Facility along with the state’s first electric fixed-route bus and charging stations that will serve Central Oklahoma residents. The day’s event displayed the public transit system’s continued investment in transit options that make our community healthier.
EMBARK’s investment into alternative-fueled vehicles and operating facilities began in 2016 when a plan was approved by the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority (COTPA) – EMBARK’s governing body – to replace its entire bus fleet with compressed natural gas (CNG) or electric buses by 2025. Since then, EMBARK has added 21 CNG-fueled buses to its fleet: six through a Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) grant, plans for eight more through a federal sustainability grant from the FTA, and has been awarded five additional grants for sustainability efforts.
“This Earth Day represents a milestone for public transit in Oklahoma,” said Jason Ferbrache, EMBARK Administrator. “With CNG driving our sustainability efforts in transit, it’s crucial our infrastructure also supports the use of alternative fuels. COTPA’s bold vision guides our efforts of offering transportation services that help improve our community’s air quality.”
Currently, EMBARK’s fleet includes two hybrid electric buses, 21 CNG buses, three CNG paratransit vehicles, seven modern electric streetcars, and a bike-share fleet. EMBARK’s upcoming Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system launching in late 2023 also plans to use CNG vehicles. The electric bus unveiled today is Oklahoma’s first fully electric fixed-route bus to be used in public transit.
“We’re excited to partner with EMBARK to bring Oklahoma City its first CNG fueling station,” said JP Fjeld-Hansen, vice president of Trillium, a subsidiary of Love’s in Oklahoma City that built the CNG station for EMBARK’S bus fleet. “This partnership will help improve Oklahoma’s air quality by providing clean and reliable fueling solutions, today and into the future.”
“An electric bus vehicle offers a glimpse into the future of public transit as we know it,” said Mark Nestlen, CEO of Oklahoma Transit Association. “When organizations take steps toward environmental sustainability, they are creating a better world for those they serve.”
The electric bus purchase was made possible through a grant from the FTA’s Low- or No-Emission Grant Program awarded in 2017 ($797,550) and 2020 ($711,255).
EMBARK’s Ozone Awareness Program kicks off this Friday, April 23. Residents are encouraged to use public transit Friday, April 23, to break the routine of driving themselves to work and use public transportation to help reduce congestion. The annual program makes fixed-route bus, OKC Streetcar, and zone 1 Paratransit fare-free on the third Friday of each month, April through September.