Mark Richardson, Public News Service (AZ)
TUCSON, Ariz. – Many city buses pull away from a stop belching thick, bla ck diesel smoke, leaving those behind them with burning eyes and a choking cough. But that’s changing, as a new report from the Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund says more cities in Arizona and across the country are making the switch to electric buses.
Diane Brown, the executive director of Arizona PIRG, says agencies such as the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority in Flagstaff and Sun Tran in Tucson are “going clean” with their bus fleets.
“NAIPTA and Sun Tran have been working with their respective electric utility and bus manufacturer to determine how to achieve the greatest benefit, for the transportation system and for Arizonans,” says Brown.
Brown says when cities convert to electric buses, the benefits include reduced emissions, lower operating costs and improved public health. The report, which was co-produced by the Frontier Group, illustrates the successes, challenges and lessons learned by six early adopters of electric bus fleets.
She says PIRG’s ultimate goal is to see Arizona transit agencies transition to 100% electric buses.
The report notes that transportation authorities need to account for local conditions to ensure the buses can perform as needed. This means coordinating with local utilities and policymakers so they also benefit from zero-emissions buses.
“The Arizona Corporation Commission established a policy that includes the development of a comprehensive transportation electrification plan,” says Brown. “The plan should provide a road map for necessary infrastructure in our state.”
The report says for each electric bus in a municipality, transit agency or school district fleet, each year it saves $24,000 in fuel costs, $30,000 in maintenance – and $55,000 in healthcare expenses, since less pollution means fewer adverse health impacts.