Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Electric Department General Manager Neale Lunderville today promoted the benefits of zero-emissions battery electric buses (E-buses) for the City of Burlington during an event that began at Burlington Electric and continued with a ride through the City on an E-bus that is in town for a two-week pilot program with Green Mountain Transit (GMT). The 40-foot transit bus being tested would reduce GMT’s reliance on fossil fuels and avoid greenhouse gas emissions.
“For Burlington to be successful in achieving its net zero goal, we will need to tackle the transportation sector’s significant and growing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor Weinberger. “This innovative E-bus opportunity has the potential to create significant reductions in emissions and, once again, illustrates how Burlington Electric continues to drive new solutions to our climate challenges.”
In the fall of 2016, team members from Burlington Electric and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) visited with the GMT board of directors to pitch the idea of replacing aging diesel buses in the GMT fleet with E-buses. The conversation continued and led to the GMT pilot program. Last month, the University of Vermont engaged in a similar E-bus pilot program.
“I am impressed by the collaboration among the City of Burlington, Green Mountain Transit, UVM, and VEIC that has led to this important pilot program,” said Joe Flynn, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “VTrans welcomes innovative ideas to improve our state-wide transportation network. Trading diesel buses for E-buses makes sense and is an important aspect of doing our part for the environment.”
In 2015, Vermont passed the Renewable Energy Standard (RES), which requires electric distribution utilities like Burlington Electric to procure an increasing percentage of their electric sales from renewable energy. In addition, the RES includes an “energy transformation” requirement that tasks electric utilities to look for ways to reduce fossil fuel emissions (even where doing so may increase electric consumption). One way Burlington Electric plans to achieve this requirement is with an E-bus program through which Burlington Electric would help fund GMT’s purchase of E-buses through a performance-based incentives program that would apply upon 12 months of continuous service for each E-bus.
“The E-bus pilot program is one way that Burlington Electric is leading Burlington’s transition to a net zero energy city,” said Burlington Electric GM Lunderville. “We are excited to make funds available to Green Mountain Transit to help with the purchase of E-buses as replacements to its aging diesel buses. This is an important way for Burlington Electric to drive our strategic net zero vision in the transportation sector.”
The bus being tested in the GMT pilot seats up to 36 individuals, including the driver, and has room for an additional 13 standing passengers. The bus has no fare box and, therefore, has been running fare-free. E-buses currently are either in transit service or being evaluated in Springfield and Worcester, MA, in Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA, at Stanford University, in Denver, CO, and in other U.S. locations and around the world and have saved tens of millions of gallons of gasoline and avoided hundreds of millions of pounds of GHG emissions.
To make the pilot possible, Burlington Electric arranged for the E-bus loan from the manufacturer and built a special temporary electric charging station at its 585 Pine Street facility, where the visiting E-bus spends its nights as it fully recharges. Once fully charged, the E-bus is able to travel approximately 160 miles without another charge. An E-bus added to GMT’s fleet that travelled 30,000 miles annually (about the average for GMT fleet buses) would be expected to save GMT $8,900 in fuel and maintenance costs (even at today’s historically low diesel prices), reduce diesel consumption by 7,025 gallons, reduce CO2 emissions by 70-77 tons, and improve Burlington Electric’s load factor as buses would be charged at night.
“Green Mountain Transit is committed to doing our part to create a more environmentally friendly community, and the pilot program is a step toward accomplishing this goal,” said GMT GM Mark Sousa. “We appreciate the partnership proposed by BED and VEIC. One week into the pilot, we already have received positive feedback from our bus operators and passengers. We will continue to test the bus through Friday and then assess whether this is a viable option for our transit system.”
“UVM is actively pursuing electric buses for our fleet, to reduce the University’s overall greenhouse gas emissions and to further contribute to our environmental stewardship goals, including climate neutrality by 2025,” said Abby Bleything, UVM Sustainable Transportation Coordinator.
“VEIC believes that electric transit technology is vital to reducing the economic and environmental impact of transportation,” said Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, Director of Transportation Efficiency at VEIC. “We’re excited to be a part of this effort to help Burlington become an even more sustainable city.”
The battery electric bus will operate as part of GMT’s service until April 21, 2017. Passengers who have questions are invited to contact GMT at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802.864.2282.
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