Everett Transit wants all-electric bus fleet, and it’s on its way
to doing so
Michael Whitney photo
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (seated, right) went on a ridealong hosted by Everett Transit for the bus system to show off its new electric buses. The city is added nine more electric buses to its fleet by 2023. Others on the ride were Mayor Cassie Franklin (seated, left), Everett Transit director Tom Hingson (standing, right aisle), Deputy Mayor Nick Harper, and Transit Operations Manager Mike Schmieder (standing, center in green vest). Driver Vanessa Reyes drove the bus.
EVERETT — U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen thinks the Northwest can lead in exchanging gasoline buses for electrics.
On March 30, Everett Transit gave a demonstration ride on one of its newest electric buses to the Congressman from Washington’s Second Congressional District to show how far it’s come.
Transit’s plan to have an almost all-electric fleet by 2024 is heading toward halfway. If it wins a federal grant for 12 more electric buses, it would turn over the fleet enough to leave just a few diesels left.
It is filing an order this month worth $9.8 million for nine new electrics from the manufacturer Gillig. Federal and state grants are paying for the purchase. They should arrive in 18 months, Transit director Tom Hingson said.
Transit now has nine electric buses built by Proterra running routes today. It put its first electric into service a mere 30 months ago. Specifically, they run on Route 7, Route 29 and Route 8 that stops by the Boeing plant.
The new Gilligs will use inductive charging pads laid in the pavement (think of a wireless phone charger) that send upward of 75 kilowatts of power to recharge the buses in short order. The charger pads will be installed at Everett Station, Everett Community College Station and Eclipse Mill Park by the Riverfront Development.
The Proterra buses need to stop midday to recharge using a plug.
Electric buses are major purchases. The newest-model Proterra cost north of $945,000 as equipped, Hingson said. “Half the cost of this bus is the battery,” he told the small audience on the ridealong. He noted the batteries can be replaced.
Transit prefers a 12-year life cycle for its fleet.
How do the newest-model Proterra ZX5 buses accelerate? “Better by a landslide,” said driver Vanessa Reyes, who drove the demonstration bus for the Larsen ridealong. She also complimented its smoothness on the road.
Electric buses can tackle inclement weather well, Transit’s Operations Manager Mike Schmieder said.
Larsen is asking key transportation officials in the House to robustly keep up federal transit funding, including to enlarge federal funding toward low- to no-emission vehicle grants.
Low-emission could include buses that run on hydrogen, a fuel that manufacturers are currently exploring because it is clean but does not require electric recharging.
“It’s an exciting
time to be (in favor of)
low- and no-emission transit,” Larsen told the Tribune.
President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan released March 31 calls on Congress to invest $85 billion directly into modernizing public rail and bus transit systems, plus a separate $115 billion directly to road repairs. In total, Biden is dedicating $621 billion of this $2.3 trillion plan toward transportation.
The bus agency says its electric fleet has so far avoid-ed polluting 626 tons of carbon dioxide and will prevent producing 6,628 tons of carbon dioxide over the next 15 years.
The manufacturer Proterra says its buses can do 25 mpg-e. The ‘e’ is short for “equivalent” to miles per gasoline gallon. A study by Iowa State University found recent-model diesel buses get an average of 4 mpg, and diesel-electric hybrid buses get about 5 mpg.
Community Transit to soon start feasibility study on low- to no-emission buses
This summer, Community Transit will be kicking off a feasibility study to evaluate electric and hydrogen fuel cell and other emerging technologies, spokesman Martin Munguia said by email.
Part of the feasibility study will be to evaluate whether electric or hydrogen buses “will be the best fit for our fleet and service area,” Munguia said.
“The Zero Emission study will help identify the best solution for Community Transit considering our service characteristics; identify potential capital projects needed; identify the optimum fleet percentage (whether a portion or all); estimate costs for fleet, infrastructure, and ongoing operations; as well as a timeline for any transition,” Munguia said by email.
Last week, Community Transit staff checked out a New Flyer hydrogen fuel cell bus and an Alexander Dennis electric double decker bus, he said.
In other news, Community Transit just won a $37 million grant for its future Swift Orange Line to build a new bus rapid transit line between McCollum Park Park & Ride and Edmonds College. It could be up and running by 2024, the agency said.
It already runs the Swift Blue Line along the Highway 99 corridor and the Swift Green Line from the Bothell area north to the Boeing plant in Everett.
The two existing Swift lines are Community Transit’s highest ridership routes, the agency said in a recent news release.
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