Florida transit agency will use VW settlement funds to buy 60 electric buses

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, which serves Charged’s home city of St Petersburg, Florida, will use $18 million in funding from the VW settlement to acquire 60 Gillig electric buses.

“Volkswagen lied and pumped extra pollution into Florida’s air, so they had to pay up. We went after a share of that money to reduce future pollution and continue PSTA’s leadership in sustainability,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller at a recent unveiling event.

PSTA currently operates 80 hybrid buses and 6 BYD electric buses. The agency plans to put 14 new Gillig electric buses on the road by the end of 2024, and take delivery of the remaining 60 e-buses over the next 3 years. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” says Brad Miller. “When I started here 12 years ago, the PSTA board was debating whether or not to get a hybrid-electric bus. When we got our first hybrid, there was lots of debate on that—whether it would work and battery range. As we move into the zero-emissions [space], it demonstrates to the community that public transportation can be an environmentally safe transit solution.”

Gillig’s 40-foot Battery Electric bus has 7 battery packs distributed around the bus—in the front, the rear and on the roof. It offers a range of up to 250 miles. PSTA’s buses each seat up to 38 people. The agency estimates that each bus will save $20,000 in annual operational costs compared to a legacy diesel bus.

The buses will be charged overnight at PSTA’s headquarters, which will soon feature solar panels. PSTA is currently working with the City of Clearwater to build a new $44.5-million downtown transit center, which will be equipped with solar panels and charging stations for the buses.

Source: The St. Pete Catalyst

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