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The Advantages of Electric Busses

Posted by: Brandon @ Nov. 5, 2014, 5:03 p.m.

The American Public Transportation Association reported that busses provided more than 5.3 billion rides in 2013. That means that busses transported more people than light rail, heavy rail, and commuter rail combined. And as far as emissions are concerned, busses that are on the road for the majority of the day simply burn more fuel than a car used for short trips a couple of times a day.

By replacing gasoline powered busses with those powered by electricity produced from carbon neutral sources, the US could cut a significant portion of our CO2 emissions relatively quickly.

Since Better World Club is based in Portland Oregon, let's take a look at our own public transit agency: Trimet. Our standard diesel busses (which are very similar, if not identical, to other public transit busses used around the country) get 4.4 miles per gallon on average. A recent upgrade to our bus fleet introduced hybrid busses which improve efficiency to 6 mpg. Trimet also uses roughly 6.6 million gallons of fuel per year.

Aside from decreasing emissions, there's also less maintenance involved–as there's no oil to change. Proterra, who makes the Ecoliner Electric Bus, estimates that some of their newer regenerative brakes may last up to 250,000 miles before needing to be adjusted.

It's all well and good to talk about converting bus fleets to electricity, but unless we have carbon neutral sources of energy production to create the electricity that powers these busses, we lose out on curbing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible.

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