HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Connecticut is jumping into the electric bus lane.
The state spends about $100 million a year to buy diesel buses. The average age of the state’s bus fleet is nine years, and a typical fleet is expected to last 12 years.
Connecticut has one of the worst air quality in the country. State buses record 38 million passenger trips annually. These diesel fleets create 38% of total carbon emissions.
Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) deputy commissioner Garrett Eucalitto said that’s why the state is investing heavily in switching to electric buses. The General Assembly pledged to electrify 30% of fleet purchases by 2030.
“This is really going to help improve air quality for people who live in New Haven, Hartford, Stanford, Waterbury and in fact across the state,” Eucalitto said.
A pilot program of 10 electric buses is currently underway in New Haven.
“If you’re heading to the New Haven Green or along the routes, you’ll definitely find one of these vehicles behind me, and we have the electric bus logo right on top of the bus,” said Josh Rickman, the general assistant. director of planning and marketing for CTtransit.
Electric bus technology has been outdated for five years. Rickman said these buses “are on the cutting edge of this improved technology.”
Over the next 15 years, 500 buses will be phased in, costing tens of millions of dollars. An electric bus costs $900,000. A diesel/hybrid costs $600,000.
The federal government intervenes at 80%. The state pays the remaining 20%.
“Over the life cycle of this bus, we save approximately $400,000 total in fuel savings versus electricity and maintenance costs are 50 percent lower,” Eucalitto said. “So it’s a net benefit to taxpayers when we switch to electric buses.”
A diesel engine has many parts. The electric battery system view shows a single row of tubes and a square battery.
There are 10 charging stations in the garage. Buses hold a charge for 12 hours. It takes five hours to restart them.
Dennis Solensky, CTDOT Transit Administrator, Office of Public Transportation, said bus facilities around the state are being upgraded.
“All-electric needs to be brought from the street at a much higher volume, so all facilities are being upgraded to add these buses, which will be charged,” Solensky said.
News 8 masked up and jumped for a ride. One of the first things you notice is that it’s smooth and very quiet – a hazard for distracted pedestrians.
Katina Staton, head of the CTtransit New Haven division, said safety training was needed.
“It doesn’t sound the same. So we trained our drivers to make sure they were aware of this for the safety aspect.
Over the next few months, the electric buses will be sent to a city near you. With high gas prices, timing is everything.
During the gas tax exemption, rides are free until June. After that, look at $1.75 per ride and 68 cents for disabled or senior citizens. Just look for the white sticker in the window.
Each replacement of a diesel bus with an electric bus will save 230,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year, the equivalent of planting 5,000 trees.