Electric buses have the potential to improve our communities, preventing damaging air pollution and saving taxpayers money through lower operational costs. Fresh Energy and a coalition of environmental justice organizations have been working to speed the transition from polluting diesel buses to clean electricity, and there have been good signs of progress.
In late September, Metro Transit cancelled a large planned diesel bus purchase. The agency had planned to purchase 131 diesel buses (with an option to purchase 95 more). Given that Metro Transit has approximately 900 transit buses, the purchase would have locked in new diesel for 15 to 25 percent of its total buses for the next 12 to 14 years.
The decision comes as the Metropolitan Council focuses greater attention on electrifying its bus fleet. Earlier this year, the Met Council signed a $12.5 million-dollar contract with an electric bus manufacturer, and will soon add its first electric buses to the C-Line running through much of Minneapolis’ North Side. They also are developing an Electrification Plan to transition to clean, zero emission technology.
Support for zero emissions buses was, by an extremely large margin, the most common public comment on the Metropolitan Council’s 2018 Update to the 2040 Transportation Policy Plan. Minnesotans have taken a strong stand in favor of electric buses—and we enthusiastically support them.
Fresh Energy has partnered with environmental and social justice groups to form the Coalition for Clean Transportation, which is working for a better future in our transportation system. The coalition played in integral role in gathering public comments for Met Council’s plan and we are proud to energize public feedback on electrification. Metro Transit’s decision is an important early step in transitioning to a bus system with reduced air pollution and lower long-term operational costs.
“Electric buses have a lower total cost of ownership over the life of the bus, thanks to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel and maintenance cost savings,” said Fresh Energy executive director Michael Noble. “Electric buses save taxpayers money, even before you consider the public health and environmental benefits.”
We applaud Metro Transit’s decision and are optimistic about an all-electric future. Fresh Energy and the Coalition for Clean Transportation will continue to push for greater electrification of our cities’ buses. Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to get involved.