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Electric Buses To Arrive In Springfield In Just Over A Year

City Utilities

City Utilities is going to purchase two electric buses that will be the first of their kind in CU’s fleet.  The 35-foot low-floor Gillig electric buses are expected to reduce the fleet’s usage of diesel fuel by nearly 36,000 gallons annually. The utility company expects to be able to eliminate 480 quarts of oil per year.  That will equal a savings of approximately 432,000 gallons of diesel and 5,760 quarts of oil over the 12 year useful life of a fixed-route bus, according to CU director of transit, Matt Crawford.

"That's a significant savings for us, and it'll really reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide that we're putting into the environment," he said.

The new buses will be a little bit taller and sleeker in design, according to Crawford.  Passengers should notice a quieter commute on the new buses, and those on the street won’t notice as much that a bus is nearby.  Crawford believes there will be some sort of artificial noise to allow visually impaired riders to know that a bus is approaching.

CU will have had the two EBuses about four years before it will be time to replace any more buses in the fleet, he said.  That time will be a sort of test period to determine if there will be future EBus purchases.

"This'll give us a chance to really look at the electric buses, see how they perform on our routes.  Do we get the full day out of the bus that we do with the diesel bus?  Do they have the power that we need?   Are they providing all the benefits we expected them to?  It gives us two or three years to assess that before we have to start the planning process to purchase the next buses in four to five years," he said.

When the buses arrive in December 2020, CU will retire four of its current fixed-route diesel buses. During the most recent review of the utility's fleet by the Federal Transit Authority, Crawford said the agency asked them to reduce their fleet since they had somewhat of a high spare ratio.

What do you do with a bus that's no longer needed?  Typically, buses that were purchased with some level of federal funding are auctioned off to the general public.  But the buses that CU will retire when the EBuses arrive will have to be disabled, he said.  He hopes local partner agencies, such as the Springfield Police Department, will be able to use them for training.  They'll then be disabled and sold for scrap.

The electric buses are estimated to cost $1.8 to $2 million.  They'll be purchased with a $1.4 million FTA grant and $368,000 from the Volkswagen Trust settlement through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The total funding amount covers two EBus vehicles, two charging stations capable of charging four buses and training for service technicians, according to CU.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.