Connecticut Governor Lamont Unveils First Battery-Electric Public Transit Buses

HARTFORD, CT (STL.NewsConnecticut Governor Ned Lamont  joined by officials from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT), today unveiled the first two battery-electric buses entering public service in the State of Connecticut at an event at the GBT Intermodal Transportation Center in Bridgeport.  The buses feature zero tailpipe emissions and will use 125 kWh electric bus chargers installed at the GBT bus maintenance facility.  Each replacement of a diesel bus with an electric bus will avoid 230,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year – the equivalent of planting 5,000 trees.

These are the first buses to enter service under CTDOT’s electric bus initiative.  CTDOT is looking forward to a future where all transit vehicles are powered by electricity.  This will be a gradual transition at first, but will accelerate as the costs for battery electric buses and facility upgrades become more affordable at scale.  These programs will not only improve the customer experience, but will improve air quality and noise levels for those who live in the communities served by these buses.

“This program illustrates our commitment not only to public transportation and the thousands of Connecticut citizens who rely on it every day, but also to the environment,” Governor Lamont said.  “This green technology is state-of-the-art and will serve us for years to come with clean, safe, reliable service, which is the best way to get people out of their cars and onto buses and trains.”

The two buses displayed at the event are the first of up to five, 40-foot battery electric buses and associated charging infrastructure that will be deployed at GBT.  Highlights of the buses include quiet operation, carbon-fiber-reinforced composite bodies, and anticipated reduced operating costs due to approximately 30 percent fewer parts than an internal combustion engine.

Funding for the project came from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and CTDOT.  Other project partners include the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), Proterra and Wendel.

“CTDOT has a long history of welcoming technology innovation in providing bus service to the state, including demonstrating hybrid diesel-electric buses 15 years ago, which led to the integration of the technology in our fleet,” Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said. “We also instituted fuel cell buses in the Hartford area in 2007 and 2010.  We are taking every step possible to reduce our carbon footprint and improve air quality in the communities we serve.”

“Today we celebrate an important first in our drive toward a zero-carbon future – a local manifestation of our state and regional commitment toward a zero-emission vehicle,” Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said.  “Electrification of this sector promises to slash harmful diesel emissions that disproportionally impact vulnerable communities that are the hardest hit by the health effects of air pollution and the impacts of climate change.  Together, we are committed and actively engaged in building a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future locally, regionally, and nationally.”

CTDOT recently received a $6.7 million FTA grant to modernize its CTtransit Stamford bus maintenance facility.  Other announcements are expected soon regarding the purchase of buses for the Stamford service area.  CTDOT is also purchasing twelve electric buses for CTtransit Hartford and CTtransit New Haven service areas.  The new electric buses will be introduced over the next 12-18 months.

The electric bus initiative is part of Connecticut’s commitment to economy-wide greenhouse gas reduction targets of 45 percent and 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2030 and 2050.  In 2019, the Connecticut General Assembly committed to electrify 50 percent of Connecticut’s light-duty fleet purchases and 30 percent of the heavy-duty fleet purchases, including transit buses, by 2030.

Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) Chairman Marissa P. Gillett stated, “PURA applauds CTDOT, Greater Bridgeport Transit, and everyone involved in realizing this important milestone on the path to achieving the state’s transportation electrification goals. We are committed to supporting the deployment of light, medium, and heavy-duty electric vehicles in Connecticut through our distribution system planning and grid modernization dockets, and thank CTDOT for their active engagement and contributions to those efforts.”

In July, Connecticut joined with 14 states and the District of Columbia in a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU), committing to work collaboratively to advance and accelerate the market for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including large pickup trucks and vans, delivery trucks, box trucks, school and transit buses, and long-haul delivery trucks (big-rigs).  The goal is to ensure that 100 percent of all new medium and heavy-duty vehicle sales be zero emission vehicles by 2050 with an interim target of 30 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030.

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