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January 02, 2020

Moving Forward With Electric Buses

Kayla Garcia

Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan in a SolTrans BYD All-Electric Bus

Two years ago, SolTrans made its first steps towards an all-electric bus fleet by purchasing two all-electric buses from BYD for the local routes. This year, two more all-electric buses for the local routes are on their way and we have started looking into updating our electric charging infrastructure, as well as looking into adding more battery-electric buses to our fleet specifically for express routes. In fact, if you were among the lucky few, you might’ve been able to catch a ride on the BYD bus we tested out on the express routes in late December.

Like other California agencies, SolTrans is trying to stay ahead of the regulations from the California Air Resources Board that requires public transit agencies transition to all-electric bus fleets by 2040. By taking diesel and gas buses out of commission, pollution from tailpipe emissions will be greatly reduced. This means cleaner air for urban areas, like Vallejo, that multiple transit agencies operate in.

However, California transit agencies are not the only ones who have begun to add electric buses to their fleet; nationwide many agencies have started to transition their fleets and some have managed to completely convert their entire fleet to all-electric buses.

Electric bus manufacturing companies are having trouble keeping up with the demand, and that is one of the many reasons SolTrans wants to lead the pack in the move towards all-electric buses. Purchasing buses is only one of the costs of making the transition — transit agencies must build the infrastructure to house charging stations and that is why SolTrans started looking into federal grants to help fund these changes. Moreover, SolTrans is looking to employ trained technicians to maintain its electric buses, a need that SolTrans looks forward to working with the communities of Benicia and Vallejo to fill.

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