Federal Grant Money Pays For Battery Electric Transit Buses

Nov 30, 2012

Link Transit has deployed this battery-electric trolley bus on downtown circulator routes.
Credit Photo courtesy Link Transit

In the last couple years, you've seen mass-produced, 100 percent electric cars take to the streets in the Northwest. In the same vein, now come the first battery powered buses. And we're not talking about trolley buses that get juice from overhead wires, as correspondent Tom Banse explains.

Wenatchee-based Link Transit is the first out the gate in our region. It plans to replace five diesel-powered trolley buses with battery electric models. A California company called EBus has delivered three so far. Link Transit general manager Richard DeRock says right now the battery buses are just running a few hours in the mornings while bugs get worked out. But DeRock says dramatic fuel cost savings are already apparent in each electric bus.

DeRock: "We can operate (one) for a month for about $90 worth of electricity. That compares to about $1400 worth of diesel fuel that we were using previously. So, there is almost a 14 to 1 cost savings on the energy."

Next in line in the region to deploy an electric bus is probably Ben Franklin Transit, serving Washington's Tri-Cities. They're using federal grant money to refit a regular city bus with an electric motor and batteries. Finally, the Seattle area's Metro Transit is shopping for battery electric buses. But a spokeswoman says the agency hasn't found a model that is "viable" for its needs yet. I'm Tom Banse reporting.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio