Elsewhere, the EV Rentals company started renting CNG cars through Budget Rent-a-Car in August 2000, while most rental car shuttle and long term parking shuttle traffic will be replaced with the Airtrain electric train service starting in 2002. The airport is also spending $200 million to bring the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system to the airport, again by 2002. This will provide an airport service from north San Mateo County, San Francisco and the East Bay, taking cars off some of the area’s heavily congested roadways (or at least arresting the growth in car use).
San Francisco has moved forward with considerable alacrity on improving air quality landside. If it can match this commitment on the airfield and demonstrate measurable results, San Francisco will truly be at the very forefront of airport clean air initiatives.
United’s Electric Commitment
United Airlines believes that a commitment to electric GSE will pencil out both economically and operationally, and not just at San Francisco.
The airline is looking at ramping up electrification at several airport stations, and specifically at major hubs such as Chicago, Denver, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, and Boston. According to United’s Arun Hattangady, Senior Staff Engineer, Ground Equipment Engineering, San Francisco is a priority. United has fewer GSE at the airport but it nonetheless still lags behind other major stations.
"There is still a lot to do at San Francisco," Hattangady told GSE Today. Of its 760 vehicles at the airport, some 124 are electric. This sounds impressive but only stands at around 16 percent of all GSE, compared with 33 percent at other stations.
Hattangady believes firmly in developing a true partnership between airport and airline. "San Francisco International Airport has been talking about this and we are now moving in that direction."
United is also involved in the FAA’s pilot ILEAV AIR-21 program. "We are participating in this at San Francisco, Chicago, and Sacramento," explains Hattangady. United has applied, through the airport, for additional replacement of close to 150 units at San Francisco alone.
"We want to get involved as it is a good opportunity for airlines and airports to show their commitment to such a program," says Hattangady. United is committed to its electrification program come what may, although the additional FAA funding which supplements 50 percent of the incremental costs will certainly help accelerate the replacement process at the three airports.
While Hattangady acknowledges that replacing conventional fuel GSE that is in perfectly good working order does not always come easily--something that must be even harder to fathom for the finance department--he believes that United has a responsibility to be at the forefront of such developments.