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Published on October 15th, 2020 | by Carolyn Fortuna

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More & More Bus Fleets Transition From Diesel To Battery-Electric

October 15th, 2020 by  


Up until recently, the majority of the US public transit system was powered by polluting fossil fuels such as diesel, which pose a serious risk to public health and contribute to global warming. Now, as cities turn to zero emission transportation goals and bus fleets transition to battery-electric vehicles, quiet and sustainable public transportation is becoming more and more common.

Electric buses deliver numerous benefits to the communities they serve.

  • They eliminate diesel exhaust emissions, particulate pollution, and pollutants that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, so they improve the air quality in our communities.
  • They produce significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than diesel, diesel hybrid, or natural gas-powered buses.
  • They will eliminate more than 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year when compared to their diesel counterparts.
  • They offer financial benefits, including substantially reduced maintenance costs and, in places where utility rate policies are favorable, reduced fuel costs.
  • They reduce air pollution, thus delivering significant societal benefits, including avoided healthcare expenses that emerge from citizens who can breathe cleaner air.

Port Authority’s Electric Buses are Part of Pledge to Follow Paris Climate Agreement

Port Authority’s mission to deploy 36 electric buses at its 3 metro airports is now complete. The transition is an important component of a broader environmental agenda for the agency, which includes replacing half its fleet of light duty vehicles with electric powered cars and light vans within 5 years.

Executive Director Rick Cotton announced that conversion of its fleet of airport diesel shuttle buses to battery powered electric buses is nearly finished — and 3 months ahead of schedule. “Our commitment was to make 100% of our shuttle fleet fully electric, and we will achieve that in the days ahead,” Cotton said.

The Port Authority transition to battery-electric buses began in October, 2018 with the acquisition of 36 Proterra battery-electric buses. The initial cost per individual bus at Newark Airport is $960,000, and the JFK buses were purchased with the help of rebates offered through the New York Truck Voucher Incentive program, but reductions in fuel and maintenance over the lifetime of an electric bus reduce its overall costs, which have a 10-year service life expectancy.

“Embracing all electric buses saves 1,500 tons of emissions,” said Kevin O’Toole, Port Authority board of commissioners chair. “We’ll have electric buses running as much as humanly possible.”

The authority’s Proterra electric buses have a range of 150 to 230 miles between charging.

Airports are well-suited for battery-electric bus transportation. “The terrain is flat, the routes are short, and they’ve performed extremely well,” Cotton noted. “We made available all the data on the performance of our electric buses. There have been discussions within this and other regions. We are happy to share our experiences.”

In 2018, the Port Authority pledged to follow the Paris Climate Agreement and reduce emissions 35% by 2025 and 80% by 2050. On January 17, 2020, Governor Murphy signed landmark legislation to boost the use of plug-in electric vehicles in New Jersey. Measures include a 100% electric airport shuttle bus fleet – one of the largest in the country – as well as $100 million in energy efficiency retrofits and new renewable energy initiatives across Port Authority facilities.

Beverly, Massachusetts: Bus Fleets Transition to Proterra EVs

Beverly, Massachusetts unveiled its first all-electric school bus this week. The new Thomas Built Buses Inc’s Saf-T-Liner® C2 Jouley electric school bus is powered by Proterra® electric vehicle technology. “We are proud to be one of the first communities in Massachusetts to acquire an electric school bus and to begin transitioning our fleet from diesel to electric,” Mayor Michael Cahill stated. “This bus produces zero emissions which creates a healthier environment for the students and residents.”

Image courtesy Proterra

Thomas Built Buses and Proterra offer school bus operators a comprehensive, turn-key electric vehicle program that includes electric school buses, charging systems, and charging infrastructure design and installation. The Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley merges 220 kWh of total energy capacity, the highest battery capacity in the industry, with the Proterra drivetrain to offer energy efficiency and up to 134 miles of drive range to meet the needs of school bus fleets.

Additionally, the Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school bus can fast charge in about 3 hours with the Proterra DC charging system. Thomas’ authorized dealer, New England Transit Sales, Inc., is the selling dealer for the bus. New England Transit Sales, located in Tyngsborough MA, will provide ongoing training and support for the new bus.

Among the community’s sustainability goals, Beverly Public Schools intends to convert its entire fleet of 27 school buses from diesel to battery-electric.

Cahill is a member of the Climate Mayors Steering Committee, a group of over 20 mayors who will serve as a leading voice in efforts to further climate action across the US making up the Climate Mayors coalition, which represents a network of 461 US mayors across the country who are committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement.

Earlier this year, the Climate Mayors sent a letter to Congressional leaders that urged bold action to protect the planet and build a more just economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Climate Mayors called on Congress to invest in an economic recovery that injects more resilience, equity, and sustainability into US communities.

“COVID-19 has laid bare the systemic inequities too often found at the heart of our communities – and when we start to emerge from this crisis, we must rebuild an economy that truly works for everyone,” said Climate Mayors co-founder and Chair, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Every member of the Climate Mayors network is putting health, fairness, and sustainability at the center of our local COVID-19 response and recovery plans, but we need national leadership to kick this work into overdrive and help us strengthen our economies and solve the climate crisis.”

The electric buses are an important step toward mitigating the climate crisis during COVID-19. Battery-electric vehicles offer greater efficiency with fuel cost savings as well as lower maintenance and operating costs. For students returning to school, these buses offer additional safety features, such as interior and rear back-up cameras, Wi-Fi, and ventilation systems to help assuage the spread of harmful viruses and bacteria.

Columbus, Ohio Now has 4 Battery-Electric Buses

BYD North America has delivered 4 battery-electric K7M buses to Columbia, Missouri’s transit agency, Go COMO. The buses were manufactured in the US at Lancaster, California by members of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation (SMART) Union, Local 105 at BYD’s factory.

With the launch of these BYD buses, Columbia becomes the first city in Missouri to put zero-emission transit vehicles into revenue service. The K7M bus specs include 22 seats, a range of up to 150 miles, and a charging time of 2.5 to 3 hours.

“We are thrilled to partner with Go COMO,” said Patrick Duan, BYD North America Vice President. “Our American-built buses are well-made, reliable, and bring innovative technology to Main Street in communities around the nation like Columbia.”

Dale Lynn, city of Columbia, Missouri transportation superintendent, noted that the 4 battery-electric buses offer sustainable transportation options to the city’s residents and visitors.

In August, BYD delivered 3- K7Ms to the Kansas City International Airport, bringing the airport’s total fleet of BYD’s American-made electric buses to 7. KCI was the first airport in the nation to deploy electric buses, using the K7Ms as parking lot shuttles, bringing passengers to the airport’s terminals. 
 


 


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About the Author

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. She's won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. As part of her portfolio divestment, she purchased 5 shares of Tesla stock. Please follow her on Twitter and Facebook.



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