IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has started a pilot program to switch its car and truck fleet over to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

TxDOT commissioner Bill Meadows helped launch the program Wednesday in Irving, saying the new fleet will help clean up the air. “This has the opportunity to significantly impact the air quality in the region as we shift to these different fuel sources, as well as being more efficient in terms of cost.”

TxDOT has more than 10,000 vehicles in their fleet. From the perspective of the department, the program makes sense — especially here in Texas. “TxDOT is the largest and most diverse mobile fleet operator in state government,” Meadows said. “Today the largest state fleet operator is taking advantage of the states most abundant natural resource.”

North Central Texas Council of Governments director Michael Morris said the decision is cost effective. Pointing to one of the CNG trucks he said, “This particular vehicle will travel for a dollar less per gallon, reducing TxDOT’s fuel costs.”

Morris said the switch would also increase fueling station availability for others who drive CNG cars. “The Regional Transportation Council’s plan is to continue to add demand on the system, advancing the network of refueling stations within the region.”

Texas Transportation Commission chairman Ted Houghton called the move both smart and effective. “Another tool to clean up the air in various regions.”

TxDOT has a natural gas fueling station in Irving.

According to TxDOT, natural gas vehicles traditionally cost about 40-percent less to refuel than gasoline vehicles and emit up to 90-percent fewer greenhouse gases.

The state government agency is in charge of maintaining 80,000 miles of highway.

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