Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has received 12 airfield buses with a capacity of over 100 passengers each that operate on compressed natural gas (CNG), airport officials said.

The high-capacity buses are from North American Bus Industries, Inc.

At a cost of $659,000, each bus has seating for 22 plus a standing capacity of 80, space for carry-on bags, wheelchairs and strollers. Each bus has two wheelchair ramps.

Airport officials said the new buses are needed to accommodate the arrival of new larger aircraft, such as the Airbus 380 (A-380), that will begin service at LAX.

Seven international air carriers have announced plans to operate the A-380, with starting dates from 2007 through 2010. The A-380 can carry between 555 and 800 passengers, depending upon seating configuration.

These new 60-foot-long articulated buses will transport passengers between the terminals and the remote boarding gates more efficiently than using the airport’s existing fleet of 20 airfield buses that accommodate 60 to 80 passengers each, airport officials said.

The new buses replace five 22-year-old diesel buses the airport says are at the end of their operating service life.

“The new buses are state-of the-art, alternative fuel, ADA (federal Americans With Disabilities Act)-compliant, fully air-conditioned and will be useful on and off the airfield if there is a diversion for on-airport activity,” said Mark Baskin, a bus operator supervisor.

“LAX bus operations logged 659 operations carrying 123,282 passengers in April alone, so these buses will more easily accomplish that,” he said.

Added Bill Coryell, NABI (North American Bus Industries, Inc.) vice president of sales, “The low-floor entry at all doors and smooth, quiet ride on these air-conditioned vehicles will ease passenger accessibility and transport to and from remote terminals.”

The buses were built in Anniston, Alabama by North American Bus Industries. As part of the company’s road test program, the buses were driven to the facilities of its regional service division in Ontario and then delivered to LAX.

There are nine security cameras on each bus as an extra measure for personal safety of the passengers.

Los Angeles World Airports (the city agency that operates LAX and other city airports) officials said they are committed to identifying and replacing fossil-fuel vehicles and equipment with alternative-fuel models.

LAWA says it currently operates over 500 alternative-fuel vehicles in its fleet.

Alternative fuels include liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, CNG, electricity, solar power and hydrogen fuel cell.

All of the buses in this purchase are powered with CNG and configured to comply with access requirements mandated in the Americans with Disabilities Act, airport officials say.