Updated Jun. 29, 2017 at 9:18 a.m.

Go, go electric buses in Triangle? Agencies team up for fed grant

Published: 2017-06-29 07:43:00
Updated: 2017-06-29 09:18:49

Electric buses in Triangle? Electric buses in Triangle? Could be. (Photo courtesy of GoTriangle) Image 1 of 2 · Next Image…

The go-go agencies in the Triangle are teaming up with Chapel Hill in a bid for federal funding to put electric buses on the region's roadways.

GoTriangle, GoRaleigh and Chapel Hill Transit say they want the funding to equip their fleets with two buses each. GoCary would get one.

Some $55 million in grant money is available, and the Triangle transit folks what their share.

Cheap? Not hardly

But these electric wonders aren't cheap.

The partners note the 40-foot buses made by Proterra run close to $1 million each.

Then there are charging stations.

And other equipment. Those are included in the cost, according to GoTriangle.

So it's easy to see why the Go folks want - and need - fed funds to help put cleaner buses in service. However, there is a return on investment beyond less fumes.

"That’s about twice the cost of a diesel bus, but electric buses produce no tailpipe emissions and are less expensive to operate, traveling 21.4 mpg-equivalent at 19 cents a mile. By comparison, a diesel bus gets 3.86 mpg at 84 cents per mile," the Go team says.

"That means the operating cost over the lifespan of an electric bus is $250,000 to $400,000 less than a diesel bus."

If the grant is won, the Go team hopes to have the electric buses moving by early 2019.

“We have listened to those who took the time to comment on transit plans and are thrilled to work together as one region to seek the means to deploy electric buses in both local and regional service,” said Jeff Mann, GoTriangle's general manager, in announcing the grant push. “We want to make sure we’re using the best tools in the toolshed to connect the people and places of our growing region.”

The grants are available through what is called the "Low or No Emission Competitive Grant Program."

Partnering up

And the Go team has lined up plenty of support, including Duke Energy. (A recent $450,000 grant from Duke Energy will help Greensboro's Department of Transportation install an electric charging station for the future influx of all-electric buses in the city, according to the power company.)

Local officials sending letters of support came from: Wake County, Durham County, Orange County, Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the NC Department of Transportation, Triangle J Council of Governments, NC Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, Southern Environmental Law Center, Regional Transportation Alliance, Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, NC Clean Energy Technology Center and WakeUP Wake County.

Wow. Imagine following an electric bus vs. the alternative.

Yes, a bus is a bus is a bus - but electric is cleaner (assuming Duke keeps moving to provide more environmentally friendly power) and (most likely) a heck of a lot quieter.

Dare The Skinny say it?

Go, Triangle.

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The Skinny

The Skinny

WRAL TechWire Publisher and Editor Rick Smith dishes out tidbits from the local technology sector. Read more articles…

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