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StarMetro unveils new electric buses, charging stations

City’s fuel-free buses start service in August: Five zero-emission buses will cut costs in maintinance and improve fuel economy in StarMetro transportation system

Written by
Karl Etters
Democrat staff writer

Filed Under

News

The fleet of all-electric buses in Tallahassee is growing.

Now at five, StarMetro has the largest fleet of alternative-fueled public transportation in the U.S.

City and industry officials unveiled the newest in the fleet and three Proterra FastFill charging stations this morning at the C.K. Steele Plaza along with one of the buses after they rode, emission-free and nearly silently from City Hall to the main station.

“As I stand here with such innovative technology over my head,” said Mayor John Marks at the unveiling pointing to the charging system. “I’m reminded that we are not only leading the industry in Tallahassee, but across the state and frankly across the nation.”

The electric buses, which cost $950,000 each, have the potential to save the city about $167,000 a year in fuel costs as opposed to the traditional diesel fueled buses costing around $450,000 each and an additional $50,000 annually in fuel to run.

The electricity to recharge the buses will run about 14 cents per kilowatt-hour, for a total of around $7,500 in the same span, something City Commissioner Gil Ziffer said is important as the city tries to quench a budget deficit.

Those savings are “real money,” Ziffer said. “Look, they’re unbelievably efficient buses that are good for our environment and we’ve always been big into that,” noting that the buses should be a welcome addition for the 28,000 customers in the Leon, Gadsden and Wakulla areas that utilize natural gas.

Ivan Maldonado, executive director of StarMetro said in an email that while the cost for an electric bus may seem high, as more clients, like Disney, look into using them, he expects the price to drop.

Maldonado said the traditional diesel buses get 3.79 mpg, while their electric counterparts get an estimated 22.5 mpg; the three charging stations cost $1 million and will increase the fuel economy of the system by 500- 640 percent, according to Maldonado.

Cities like Los Angeles are in the process of procuring similar systems; it just signed an agreement to acquire 25 buses July 1. Still Tallahassee remains an innovative leader.
More tallahassee.com

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