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Transit authority to purchase 60 new electric buses

Veronica Brezina

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To replace its current fleet, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is purchasing 60 electric buses from California-based Gillig LLC. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

A new contract agreement will provide an additional 60 all-electric buses to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority over the next five years. 

During a Wednesday board meeting, the PSTA board unanimously approved an agreement with California-based Gillig LLC to provide 60 electric buses that will replace PSTA’s fleet. 

“PSTA is taking major steps toward fulfilling its aspiration of a fully green fleet by 2050,” PSTA CEO Brad Miller said in a statement. “More zero-emission buses, as well as charging infrastructure, will reduce emissions and improve air quality that impacts public health locally while contributing to an overall effort to combat climate change and sea-level rise.” 

The entire project to replace the fleet, including the chargers, will cost $80 million. The goal is to purchase zero-emission electric buses subject to the availability of funds.

“We will be doing it [purchasing the buses] based on the amount of grant funding we have in place at any given time. This is historic in the event that not only we are moving forward with the 60 all-electric, green, zero-emission buses, but we will be placing the first order on this procurement by buying two years’ worth of buses. We will be seeing 12 electric buses received by 2023 and another 12 by the end of 2024,” PSTA Chief Finance Officer Debbie Leous said during the board meeting. 

PSTA is depending on the infrastructure bill passed into law, a $1.2 trillion package. The bill would provide $550 billion of new federal investments in infrastructure over five years. 

PSTA currently operates six all-electric, green buses. The announcement comes after PSTA unveiled four electric depot bus chargers in June. Last month, the PSTA Board of Directors approved electric bus purchasing contracts with the four leading electric bus manufacturers in the country. It is the first all-electric bus consortium in Florida.

With this purchase, the total number of all-electric buses in the PSTA bus fleet will increase to 68 in 2026, or 31% of the fleet.

The new buses will have a 200-mile range, or 14 hours of driving time on a full charge. The batteries will have a six-year warranty.

The buses can be recharged one of three ways: overnight charging, regenerative braking and on-route charging stations. PSTA is working in partnership with Duke Energy, which has contributed to funding the charging infrastructure.  

With the electric fleet, PSTA will save roughly $20,000 annually in diesel fuel costs with each electric bus. 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    David

    December 8, 2021at7:39 pm

    Wonderful a partnership with Duke Energy.
    Better late than never

  2. Avatar

    Dave Feddon

    December 9, 2021at9:30 am

    The $20,000 diesel savings is looking at only half of the picture as the savings will be offset by additional electricity costs, possibly even at a higher dollar amount. Additionally more fossil fuel is burned, typically three times as much, to create the electricity at the power generating stations than just using fossil fuel in the vehicles. Until more electricity is generated with renewable energy this is more of a feel good for the users and people that see the buses as it is just moving where the pollution is generated to a more remote area and is actually creating more pollution. The electric companies are just using the push for electric vehicles to increase their monopoly on energy creation by vilifying fossil fuels while using the same fossil fuels to generate electricity.
    Ask California how it is going with their rolling blackouts due to enacting mandates for renewable energy and banning the use of fossil fuels before the generation of such energy is actually sufficiently prepared to meet the current and future demand.

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