Senate to consider $800,000 in funding to expand RTS electric bus fleet

Senate to consider $800,000 in funding to expand RTS electric bus fleet

Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA)’s proposal for preliminary design and environmental review of an electric charging depot has been included in legislation passed by the House of Representatives.

The $800,000 project was submitted as part of this year’s Surface Transportation Member Designated Projects and would help RGRTA, also known as Regional Transit Service (RTS), expand its electric bus fleet by up to 800 percent, officials said Wednesday.

“Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing our nation and in order to combat its devastating effects, we need to make real investments in sustainable infrastructure,” said U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle. “This exciting project will build upon the steps RTS has already taken to invest in clean energy, reduce our carbon footprint and help Rochester lead the charge in environmentally-friendly public transportation. I am proud to have helped pass this in the House of Representatives and look forward to working with my partners in the Senate to make it a reality.”

RTS now has 10 electric buses in its fleet with another 10 scheduled to arrive in 2022. In order to further expand the number of electric buses, RTS needs a significant investment in upgrading its campus infrastructure. The estimated total cost of the charging depot for electric buses is $60.7 million. The $800,000 will get the project started by funding the preliminary design and environmental review. When complete, the new charging depot will allow RTS to simultaneously charge up to 80 vehicles.

Bill Carpenter

“I thank Congressman Morelle for including this funding in the INVEST in America Act and bringing us one step closer to building a new charging depot for electric buses,” said RTS CEO Bill Carpenter. “The only way we can meet Gov. Cuomo’s goal of having a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035 is to have this new charging depot built and in use by 2025. By transitioning our fleet to zero-emission vehicles we are embracing the future of public transit, improving the environment, reducing costs for taxpayers and making sure we can provide safe and sustainable mobility for our customers for many years to come.”

Officials noted that by replacing older diesel-powered vehicles with electric buses, we invest in zero-emission transportation that will have a profound effect on combatting the effects of climate change. For example, replacing one diesel bus with one electric bus reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) by 90.5 metric tons per year. This means the replacement of 10 diesel buses with 10 electric buses will reduce GHG by 905 metric tons, which is the same as taking 197 personal vehicles off the road.

“Given the urgency of reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, RTS and Congressman Morelle should be commended for their commitment to accelerating our region’s transition to electric buses,” said Abigail McHugh-Grifa, executive director of Climate Solutions Accelerator. “This is the kind of leadership our community needs to mitigate the threat of climate change and improve quality of life for local residents. Diesel fumes are dirty and dangerous, so we can all breathe a little easier knowing that cleaner, safer transportation options are headed our way.”

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