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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Electric Buses for the Upper Valley and Burlington

BYD e-bus in Copenhagen. Leif Jørgensen, Wikimedia Commons.

George Harvey

Many readers might recall an article that appeared in the June, 2017 issue of Green Energy Times, “Electric Bus Trials in Vermont and New Hampshire” (http://bit.ly/VT-NH-ebus-trial). That article reported tests at Advance Transit, which operates in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire, and Green Mountain Transit, which operates in Burlington. The two companies were among several that tested the BYD bus, but they were especially interested in conditions in New England, including cold weather and hilly terrain.

Last year, Vermont’s Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy and Representative Peter Welch wrote to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of a grant application to acquire buses for these areas. That effort has borne fruit, as a grant for $3 million has been awarded.

In a press releases, Leahy, Sanders and Welch are quoted as saying, “Investments like these create a cascade of benefits for our community. Updating our state’s public transit options to reflect the changing climate will mean more Vermonters trading car rides for bus rides and fewer carbon emissions in our atmosphere and will make our rural communities more resilient. At a time when global climate change is already causing devastation here at home and around the world, from more frequent and stronger hurricanes, to wildfires, drought, and flooding, this is exactly the kind of investment we should be making. It’s also crucial to make sure that investments in clean energy are not limited to urban areas. This project’s focus brings those benefits directly to Vermont’s rural communities.”

This is important, especially because transportation accounts for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions nationally at 29%. In Vermont, the percentage is much higher at about 45%.

The issue of electric buses is not just environmental, however. It is also one of good economy. Electric buses cost about 60% more than their diesel-powered counterparts, but their operating costs are so much lower that the payback time is very short. In fact, the World Economic Forum (WEF) projects that by 2025 about half of all buses in use by municipal transit systems will be electric (http://bit.ly/WEF-ebus). The WEF also points out that 386,000 electric buses were manufactured last year worldwide, and 99% of them were manufactured in China. That is a huge market, estimated at over $50 billion, in which the United States is barely participating.

The bus tested on routes in Vermont and New Hampshire was made by BYD, a Chinese company that has factories in the United States and Canada. The buses purchased for the routes here will not necessarily be from BYD, as there are a couple of relatively small companies in this country making electric buses here.

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