The Vermont Agency of Transportation will add electric buses with a $ 1 million grant
The Vermont Agency of Transportation will purchase four electric buses to cross the central part of the state with a $ 1 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration for Low and No Emissions.
This is the fifth year in a row that the country has received the scholarship.
In addition to the four cutaway electric buses – smaller vehicles that carry between 14 and 18 passengers – the grant will cover necessary charging equipment and facilities upgrade for the Tri-Valley Transit region, which operates in Addison, Orange and Northern Windsor .
“I am very proud of the record funding my government has proposed to combat climate change, and electrifying our transportation sector is an important part of our strategy,” said Governor Phil Scott in a press release.
Public Transit Manager Ross MacDonald said he expected the new electric buses to hit the streets between July 2022 and June 2023 months and more within the next year.
In total, the state has received funding for 18 e-buses, including more than $ 7 million in low and no emissions funding programs and more than $ 1.25 million in government and local funding required by the program. The agency also received funding for two electric buses from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust funds, MacDonald said.
Prior to Covid-19, Vermonters averaged between 15,000 and 16,000 bus trips a day and 5 million trips a year on the fleet’s 420+ buses, most of which run on internal combustion engines and diesel fuel, MacDonald said.
A 2016 report from the Vermont Environment Department found that currently nearly 45% of the state’s emissions come from transport, mostly cars and trucks.
“The low and no emissions grant program was critical to AOT’s electrification plans,” MacDonald said in the press release. “In recent years, these grants have allowed us to invest in electric public vehicles and infrastructure while also gaining a better understanding of the financial and operational requirements needed to develop an all-electric fleet.”
E-buses can cost anywhere from 30% the cost of diesel buses to more than double their price. While cheaper fuel and lower maintenance costs reduce the void over a bus’s life cycle, they don’t close it entirely, MacDonald said.
The agency has also struggled to find electric buses with the range and specifications required to operate in the rolling Vermont countryside and through the cold winters, he said. While the larger buses used in Burlington have the range and hours it takes to replace the diesel buses, the smaller cutaways can’t compete with their diesel counterparts in terms of miles or hours.
“It’s not that they have to work as well as the diesel. They just have to work as well as the diesel on the routes we need, ”MacDonald said in an interview with VTDigger. “We’re seeing problems where we can’t make these cutaways on some of our routes because the specifications just don’t allow us to cover the entire route.”
Until better alternatives are developed, switching the fleet to electric buses would require splitting some routes in half and using diesel buses while the electric vehicles are charging, MacDonald said.
The traffic authority is in the process of drawing up an electrification plan to check whether it is possible to only buy electric buses in the future. MacDonald said the plan would be ready by the end of the year, in time for the next legislature.
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