In the fall of '09, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board inched toward spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new buses that would be powered by compressed natural gas -- as opposed to the liquefied natural gas and clean diesel presently fueling the current fleet. Mayor Tom Leppert, who spearheaded the city's efforts to give CNG-powered cabs front-of-the-line privileges at Love Field, was most decidedly in favor of the conversion. As his chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh, told The News earlier this month, Leppert not only views this as an environmental move, but he "cares very much about easing this country off of oil, and not just from an environmental aspect. He looks at it from a national security standpoint too."
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Late last night, DART sent word: The board finalized the process on Tuesday by signing a $210-million contract with Anniston, Alabama-based North American Bus Industries, Inc. The contract calls for the purchase of 452 "30-foot and 40-foot heavy-duty, low-floor buses that will replace the current fleet buses which began service in 1998." DART says the new buses will begin service in 2013, and that the transition to CNG will wrap up two years later. Also, notes the release: "DART plans to award a contract in April for the construction of four CNG fueling stations. The stations will be located at its bus and Paratransit maintenance facilities."