Governor Phil Scott and Green Mountain Power (GMP) announced April 18 that public transportation in Rutland County will be cleaner with the arrival of two new all electric transit buses. The Marble Valley Regional Transit District (MVRTD) is now operating these electric buses in place of two diesel fueled buses.
“The transportation sector is Vermont’s largest contributor of carbon emissions, which is why my team and I have prioritized vehicle electrification to combat climate change,” said Scott. “Whether it’s for public transportation or private use, the more accessible we can make electric vehicles the better, and we will continue to work to give Vermonters these options.”
Taking two diesel fueled buses off the road will offset about 15,660 gallons of diesel a year, the greenhouse gas-reduction equivalent of taking about 46 cars off the road.
The buses, infrastructure upgrades, and equipment were funded through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund with a grant of nearly $1.5 million and additional support from Green Mountain Power through clean electrification incentives designed to cut carbon and costs for all customers.
With support from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), Marble Valley Regional Transit District also provided funds for the e-buses.
“This is the future, and we are so excited to be part of this pilot program. Electric transportation is more efficient, more cost-effective, and cleaner. Being able to access funding through the state helped us go electric years sooner than we would have been able to,” said Ken Putnam, the executive director of MVRTD. “It is so great to hear from riders how thrilled they are with the buses and how much they love how quiet they are. And the drivers say the buses are great to drive, with a lot of power.”
The electric buses are currently running a route between Rutland and Middlebury, with plans to start a route to Killington later this spring.
“We are very excited to play a role in bringing electric transit buses to the Rutland community and beyond,” said Julie Moore, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources. “As outlined in the 2021 Initial Climate Action Plan, supporting the transition from medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles to zero emission vehicles is a priority as we work to reduce greenhouse gas and other harmful air emissions from the transportation sector. This pilot program will help us evaluate how battery electric technology can best be utilized to improve the environment and public health while continuing to provide Vermonters with reliable public transportation services.”
“These two electric transit buses are part of the agency’s commitment to transition to electric vehicles,” said VTrans Secretary Joe Flynn. “These buses provide for operational efficiencies and improved transit service with quieter vehicles while also contributing to Vermont’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, the Public Transit Program has 18 e-buses on the road or ordered and we plan to continue to replace internal combustion engines with electric vehicles to the extent possible.”
VEIC is administering the pilot program on behalf of the Agency of Natural Resources, and will track performance, to help expand clean public transportation in Vermont.
“The Agency of Natural Resources has created a compelling vision in using the VW settlement funds to reduce diesel fuel and electrify public transportation. We are grateful for the opportunity to administer this pilot,” said Rebecca Foster, CEO of VEIC. “We congratulate Marble Valley Regional Transit District for this exciting addition to their bus fleet and thank our partners at VTrans and GMP for helping to make emission-free transit a reality for Rutland residents.”
In addition to providing an incentive for each electric bus, GMP provided an incentive towards DC fast chargers for the buses. As transit and other heavy-duty vehicles switch to electric, they provide new opportunities to strengthen the grid when not providing transportation. Serving essentially as battery storage on wheels, energy can flow back to the grid to reenergize buildings or help reduce the costs to other customers by avoiding having to purchase power when it is most expensive.
“At GMP, we are committed to being a part of the solution to help Vermonters electrify their transportation. Individual cars are part of it, but so is cleaning up public transportation options,” Green Mountain Power president and CEO Mari McClure said. “We were excited to partner with others to get these buses out there while also expanding our network of fast charging stations and look forward to continuing to deploy these across Vermont.” McClure also serves on the board of the World Resources Institute Electric School Bus initiative.