Monday, September 18, 2017

5 FL Transit Agencies Win $$ for ELECTRIC BUSES!

Tallahassee, where electric buses like this one have run for several years, will add more to its fleet. 
EXCITING News for Florida! Florida transit agencies just WON a $5 million in Federal grants ($1 million per agency) to buy zero-emission electric buses! Congratulations to GainesvilleTallahasseeBroward CountyJacksonville and Pinellas County! Friday Sept. 15, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Low or No Emission (Low-No) Vehicle program, which funds the development of transit buses and infrastructure that use advanced fuel technologies, announced its 51 national winners for its annual Low-No grants, and 5 of them are here in Florida

Why is this such good news? We all just lived through a frightening event from a storm that climate change turned into a monster. Sierra Club's Ready for 100% campaign is working to get our cities to commit to a date certain Clean Energy for All status to end our state and nation's carbon emissions. To achieve this, we must do 3 things

  1. switch to 100% renewable energy
  2. save just as much energy by making our homes and buildings energy efficient, and 
  3. switch to electric vehicles: cars, trucks and buses, and make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians 

Public transit is key to achieving our goal of equitable access to transportation that provides a way to get around that's clean, quiet, safe and efficient. Our national Clean Transportation for All Campaign is working with Ready for 100 toward a vision in which all Americans have access to clean transportation choices to get to work, to school, to play, to the store, and to grandma’s. This includes bikes, feet and transit. For vehicles, we’re working toward a future in which every vehicle has a plug and is powered by the wind and sun


This goal is more challenging for Florida than any other state, as we have the nation's most dangerous streets for cyclists and pedestrians, and the most poorly funded transit agencies. This means that virtually everyone must own a car, whether they can afford to or not. 

With their low maintenance and fuel costs, zero emission electric buses will save transit agencies money that can be used to add more buses to their fleet so buses can run early, late and often - something Florida transit fails to do now. All our transit agencies now want to add electric buses to their fleets, but they find the higher capital cost daunting. 


Winning these funds to buy new electric buses will help these cities all over Florida experience the benefits of electric buses over diesel, diesel hybrid and compressed natural gas - all of which today emit 4-5 times more carbon than electric buses do, even considering today's largely fossil fuel sources of electricity. As we move to renewable energy, electric buses' overall carbon emissions will steadily decline towards zero, while all other types of buses stay just as dirty forever. 

Buses run for 12-15 years, which is why it's critical that as many new buses purchased today, buses that will serve our communities into the 2030's, run on increasingly clean electricity

Florida's Winners: 

JACKSONVILLE isn't waiting for that day to come: The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) will replace diesel buses with battery electric buses and chargers for an expansion route, which will serve a Park-n-Ride and a new logistics and distribution center that employs over 1,500 Jacksonville residents. Because charging stations will utilize Jacksonville Electric Authority’s Solar Smart Power program, Jacksonville's electric buses will truly have zero emissions as soon as they start running. 

GAINESVILLE RTS will purchase Gillig 40' battery electric buses and depot chargers to replace diesel buses. These buses will be Gainesville RTS's first zero emission buses, one of the first deployments of the Gillig battery electric bus. 

In PINELLAS, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will execute a second phase of its electric bus program to install charging infrastructure (on-route & charging bank for depot chargers) and buy electric buses. The charging infrastructure is an integral part of PSTA's long-term battery electric bus program. 

BROWARD County Transit (BCT) will replace diesel buses that have met their useful life with all-electric 45' over-the-road buses. Purchase of these buses will include associated depot charging infrastructure to support bus deployment. The buses will be operated on BCT's express bus routes servicing the Southeast Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami. 


And in TALLAHASSEE, the City's public transit service provider, StarMetro, will replace aging diesel buses with 35-foot Proterra Catalyst fast-charge battery electric buses. The project will add to the 4 battery electric buses that StarMetro's been running for several years - Florida's 1st electric buses. 

Miami-Dade Transit won Low-No funds for electric buses last year, and USF Tampa is using its Student Green Energy Fund to cover the difference in the price of 2 new electric vs. a new diesel buses for its Bull Runner campus fleet. As more Floridians get to ride in these clean, quiet buses, buses that we'll see, but won't hear or smell as we do today, more will demand that we buy more to do as Los Angeles now plans to by 2030: make our public transit fleets 100% electric! 


Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative
Sierra Club's FL Healthy Air & Ready for 100 Campaigns
1990 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(o) 727-824-8813, ext. 303      (c) 813-841-3601