JTA unveils environmentally friendly bus

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JTA took a big step toward a cleaner future Monday when it unveiled its first compressed natural gas bus.

Mayor Lenny Curry, Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and other city leaders were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony at City Hall.

The event celebrate a new fleet of buses that will place Jacksonville on the map when it comes to being a more eco-friendly city.

Behind the steel and the rubber tires of the compressed natural gas bus is a major milestone for Jacksonville's transit system.

"It's clean air, clean energy," Brown said. "We're getting 23 additional buses and over the life of the project, it's 100. I mean that's wonderful."

Coming all the way from California, the new buses will replace JTA's current diesel buses. Removing one diesel bus is equivalent to taking 21 cars off the road. That equates to less smog and less money on fuel costs, officials said.

"We're going to save about $6 million over 15 years," said Nat Ford, CEO of JTA.

The bus is also much quieter than ones riders are probably used to.

And one feature riders might enjoy, especially if they're multi-taskers, is the complimentary Wi-Fi that can be accessed from a smartphone.

"It's beautiful. It's really nice," Sonia Russell said. "It smells so good -- that brand new smell."

The new service will launch on the Northside corridor at the beginning of December. By 2018, the Flyer system will cover 57 miles of travel.

Along with the new buses, there will also be a new compressed natural gas station for fueling and maintaining the buses. The buses will be funded through grants and local JTA funds.

By offering 10-minute frequency and real-time tracking, JTA hopes more people will take the bus and save money in the long run.