City uses state funding from Volkswagen to buy two electric buses
By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY – After receiving more than $ 818,000 from a government grant earlier this year, the city is working on the final stages of purchasing two electric buses for Salisbury Transit.
City Manager Lane Bailey said the city has one Volkswagen Settlement transit / shuttle bus program grant from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality in February to replace two of Salisbury Transit’s older vehicles with two electric buses at no charge. The grant covers the purchase of buses and their charging.
Salisbury Transit operates three fixed routes along with Americans with Disabilities Act paratransit services in Salisbury, Spencer and East Spencer. The electric buses will have the same function and functionality as the buses financed by the Federal Transport Authority that are being replaced.
The buses have not yet been purchased because the city is working with state officials on issues such as the tender specifications. In addition, Bailey said the city has been researching options for batteries that can hold a charge for an entire distance. He expects to buy a bus with a charging time of three to four hours and one with a charging time of nine to ten hours.
Although the battery is credited with powering a bus for up to 130 miles, Bailey said that a battery only seems good for 100-110 miles. On three routes operated by Salisbury Transit, the total mileage is between 116 and 126 miles.
While the old buses could take up to 30 passengers, the smaller electric buses offer space for up to 14 passengers. The current 22-foot diesel ADA buses can also accommodate up to 14 passengers.
“We are grateful to the NCDEQ for recognizing our grant Application that calls for more fuel efficient, greener vehicles for our transportation customers, ”said Rodney Harrison, Salisbury Transit Director. “This award will allow us to continue serving our residents while reducing our carbon footprint and improving efficiency for our current passenger numbers. Slightly smaller buses will also increase safety when traveling in communities away from the main roads. “
The grant is particularly helpful because electric buses are far more expensive than the traditional diesel buses currently in use. A 22-foot diesel bus costs about $ 77,700, and the comparable-sized electric bus costs about $ 302,500.
Mayor Karen Alexander said the funding will include camera systems, train tickets, destination signs, bike racks and radios in addition to vehicle purchases. She also praised the promotion of the city’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint across all departments.
“We hope to use more alternative fuel vehicles in the future and this will be a good first step for us,” said Bailey. “It gives us the opportunity to see how the electric buses work and whether they can meet our passenger needs.”
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.