Montgomery County has received a $1.75 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to purchase the county’s first four electric buses and charging stations for its Ride On system.
The electric buses are scheduled to serve route 18 in Takoma Park starting in 2019, said Dan Hibbert, the county’s chief of the Division of Transit Services.
The county is working with Proterra, the bus manufacturer, and the Center for Transportation and the Environment, a nonprofit organization that works with energy and environmental sustainability, according to a Sept. 15 press release.
“The 100 percent electric bus is very aerodynamic. It’s very comfortable,” Hibbert said. “And there are zero pollutants.”
The Federal Transit Administration is funding part of the cost of the buses and charging stations through its Low- or No-Emission Vehicle Program.
Hibbert said each electric bus it is getting costs about $700,000 and a diesel bus costs about $500,000. The grant will cover the difference, or $200,000 per bus, plus a charging station for each bus, at a cost of about $50,000. That accounts for about $1 million of the grant money.
The remaining $750,000 covers costs such as infrastructure improvements to provide power to the bus depot and the work of a consultant, Hibbert said.
He said the county has applied for a separate grant to help buy 10 more electric buses through FTA’s Bus and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program. The county expects to hear back around the end of the year if its application was approved.
Hibbert said the new electric buses will help diversify the county’s fleet, which includes clean diesel and compressed natural gas buses.
In 2016, Frederick County added five electric buses. They were the first fully refurbished electric buses on the East Coast, according to the county.
Hibbert said that unlike Frederick County’s refurbished electric buses, Montgomery County is having Proterra build its electric buses from the ground up.
Frederick County described its electric buses as able to run 120 miles on a charge. The Proterra buses will have an average range of 250 miles per charge, Hibbert said. The range decreases in the winter.
He estimated that a bus covering route 18 travels about 200 to 225 miles per day, so a daily charge should be sufficient.
By the time the four 35-foot electric buses go into service in 2019, the county will have about 375 buses, Hibbert said.
The zero-emission buses will help Montgomery County reduce its fuel consumption 20 percent by 2020, cut emissions and expand the use of electric vehicles, according to a press release about the grant.
The press release says Montgomery County government buys all of its electricity through energy generated by wind turbines.