Charlotte Douglas International Airport has taken a leadership role on the ground, adding 5 electric buses to its ground transportation and planning to add many more. The airport currently operates 70 diesel-powered buses, and it wants to replace those with 50 electric buses within the next 7–10 years.
The electric buses come from American electric bus manufacturer Proterra, which has a bus factory not far away in Greenville, South Carolina.
The electric buses should certainly save the airport money in the long run due to much lower operational and maintenance costs, and the airport director notes that. However, the airport claims that this move is driven by environmental and health concerns (plenty of savings lie there as well, of course).
“We want to become a leader in environmental stewardship by implementing sustainability practices that benefit the Airport as well as our local community,” said Haley Gentry, acting aviation director at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. “The Airport is committed in doing its part to help protect the environment and foster a healthier community.”
But getting back to the cash money, note that the airport expects to save $90,000 a year on fuel across the 5 buses ($18,000 each). The pollution cuts are expected to be the same as if you removed 2,900 cars from the road, showing just how much of an impact a few buses can make.
“Transitioning to clean transportation is no longer just the right thing to do for our health and environment, it’s also the smart thing to do for our communities,” said John Walsh, Proterra’s senior vice president. “Proterra is proud to support Charlotte Douglas International Airport in its transition to clean, zero-emission battery-electric buses.”
The airport notes 5 other benefits of electric buses as well:
- 500% more efficient than a diesel bus
- 50% noise reduction versus a typical city bus
- 40% fewer parts than a diesel bus
- 90% cut in operating costs versus a diesel bus
- passengers get a smoother (as well as quieter) ride.
Notably, this is not even close to Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s first major green initiative. The airport has also:
- added solar panels
- implemented energy efficiency systems
- added electric vehicle charging stations
- used alternative fuel vehicles
- used recyclable building materials.
These new electric buses link into the broader Strategic Energy Action Plan (SEAP) from the City of Charlotte. The city aims to have 100% zero-emission fleets and 100% zero-emission energy sources by 2030 — including its airport bus fleet.
The new electric buses come with a new design as well. “The vibrant blue bus wraps contain polar positive and negative circles, electrical charge markings and CLT’s logo on both sides.”
So, the question is — which airport is next to add electric buses and set out such a full-scale transition? Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)? Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)? John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)? Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)?
All images courtesy Charlotte Douglas International Airport