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RTS introduces electric buses to its fleet


One of Regional Transit Systems's new electric buses. - PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
  • One of Regional Transit Systems's new electric buses.
Six new electric buses are now working Regional Transit Service bus lines, and four more will soon be put into service, officials announced Monday.

The new buses, as well as the charging stations to support them, were purchased with $12.4 million in state and federal grants, as well as some money from a state emissions settlement with Volkswagen. The buses are not only cleaner than their diesel counterparts, but they are so quiet that they have speakers to project warnings when they turn, a measure intended to protect pedestrians.

Bill Carpenter, the chief executive of RTS, said the transit agency hopes to have an all-electric fleet of 214 buses by 2035.

“This is an innovative, groundbreaking project that has taken a tremendous amount of work,” Carpenter said during a news conference Wednesday.

State Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez lauded RTS’s plan to fully electrify its bus fleet. She noted that the transit agency, with just 10 electric buses, has the largest electric fleet in New York second only to New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Swapping diesel buses for electric is an important step toward making New York’s transportation systems more climate-friendly and meeting the state’s goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050, Dominguez said.

“It’s an investment in our future, that’s why we have to start doing it today,” Dominguez said.

The electric buses cost $875,000 apiece and, by supplanting a diesel bus, would cut RTS’s carbon emissions by 175 tons annually, according to RTS. In terms of carbon emissions, that’s equivalent to taking 20 passenger cars off the road.

A bus can typically travel 110 to 190 miles on a charge; weather impacts the vehicles’ range. It takes three to four hours to charge the vehicles.

Jeremy Moule is CITY’s news editor. He can be reached at