AKRON, Ohio — METRO RTA is introducing its first electric buses to its fleet.
The transit agency received grant money to cover the cost of two new, all-electric buses, which cost about $924,000 each.
“There are no emissions from an electric bus. Zero emissions,” said Director of Public Relations Molly Becker. “The biggest difference for the passengers is there’s no sound.”
METRO RTA’s fleet currently comprises of 240 buses. Eighty-five percent of that fleet run on compressed natural gas. The transit agency hasn’t purchased a diesel vehicle since 2015 and hopes to retire their diesel fleet in the coming years.
“I think it’s really important for bus companies, and really individuals as well as organizations to look at ways to back those green initiatives and help the environment be a better place for all of us to live,” Becker said. “Public transit is already a green industry; we take so many cars off the road every day just by people using it and choosing to ride the bus.”
Savings on fuel and maintenance are the two biggest benefits. METRO RTA spends about $700 per bus, per month on diesel fuel to keep them on the road. However, the electric buses will cost roughly $200 per month to keep charged.
“We actually have over 2,000 solar panels on our bus garage, so on a sunny day it costs us nothing to get that bus fully charged up,” Becker said.
Local public transit agencies have seen a jump in ridership in recent months as gas prices have risen above $4 per gallon. In Akron and Summit County, METRO RTA has noticed a slight increase recently but can’t win the increase solely on gas prices.
“We do know that back in 2008 when gas prices were sky high, that $4 a gallon range is when we see more people start going back to the buses,” Becker said.
The two new buses will be launched at a ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center and then immediately be put into service.
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