Yesterday morning, I enjoyed a ride in the New Flyer XcelsiorÆ Electric Bus, a zero-emissions bus that was being explored by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. Quiet, comfy, smooth, and instant torque. Perfect for city operation and mass transit. The group I was with included John Andrews, the regional sales manager for New Flyer; Phil Compton, Senior Representative of the Sierra Club in St. Petersburg; Sierra Club members; PSTA employees; and a community-sponsored news reporter.
The Sierra Club’s Florida Healthy Air Campaign partnered with PSTA for the demo. The bus was on route from Miami — with the next stop San Francisco — to expose transit agencies and cities to the quiet comfort of the XcelsiorÆ Electric Bus. After inquiring how long it took to charge, John Andrews pointed out that, for every hour that you run it, the bus has to recharge for 6 minutes.
Phil Compton noted that the Sierra Club works with PSTA to bring electric bus demos to town, to show the many and complete advantages of these vehicles as well as prompt the city and the state to use all-electric buses.
The upfront cost of the bus is about $850,000, but the all-electric drivetrain with no engine or transmission is easier to maintain. Of course, as my Nissan Leaf (which I drove up to the event) has fewer emissions than a hybrid such as a Prius, the same holds true with the New Flyers compared to hybrid or any other non-electric buses.
“A diesel bus – a diesel hybrid – that you buy today, it’s going to be in service 12, 15 years. It is not going to improve its efficiency. Whereas these buses, as we move toward more renewable energy, the net emissions today will be less in two years, in five years, in ten years as they’re continuing to serve the road,” Phil Compton added.
PSTA CEO Brad Miller indicated that they were working on some grant funds to buy this type of electric bus. According to WMNF, Miller said, “We’ve already got an application into the federal government and … we should know by this summer.”
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