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MD Transit Agency First on East Coast to Receive All-Electric Buses

Adapted from Mass Transit Magazine:

May 05--After a slight delay, Frederick County's public transportation is primed to get greener next month, with five fully electric buses worth $2.84 million in TransIT's fleet.

On Thursday, TransIT Services plans to celebrate the buses' arrival and their environmentally progressive features: odorless and quiet, without petroleum-based fuel.

After Thursday's celebration and test ride involving officials from the county, the Maryland Transportation Administration and Maryland Energy Administration, the buses officially are scheduled to go into service around Frederick County on June 1, according to Nancy Norris, TransIT's director.

The buses' launch into countywide service was delayed by a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration requirement to have them inspected as used vehicles because they were refurbished, not new, Norris said. They are inspected now, but drivers did not have them as early as planned to train on them.

All of TransIT's 27 full-time bus drivers need to be able to drive them, because the vehicles will be rotated throughout the service's routes, she said.

"I want each of the drivers to have a chance to get behind [the] wheel," she said.

Starting June 1, Norris expects to have the buses operating in TransIT's fleet, which consists of 27 buses and eight smaller vehicles. The rest of the buses have diesel engines.

TransIT Services is a division of Frederick County government. TransIT services include public transit, transportation for people with disabilities, and other assistance to residents and area commuters.

Complete Coach Works, of Riverside, California, reconditioned the electric buses. Complete Coach restores the buses to "like-new," a TransIT news release stated. The buses generate no emissions and make almost no sound, Norris said.

The restoration replaces the diesel engine with a Zero-Emissions Propulsion System that can power the bus up to 120 miles on a single charge, the release stated.

If the new electric models work as well as hoped, Norris said, the plan is to replace four buses a year with electric models until the whole fleet is electric.

"As long as they are living up to our expectations," she said.

The cost for each bus is nearly $569,000. Norris estimates that over the average 12-year vehicle life, TransIT will save $470,000 in maintenance, since the bus will have no engine or associated parts to wear out.

The expenses are shared. The Maryland Energy Administration contributed $159,000 toward three of the vehicles, which reduced the county's cost share. In total, for the five vehicles, the Federal Transit Administration contributed $2.27 million; the Maryland Transit Administration, $288,035; and Frederick County, $129,035.

From 2 to 4 p.m. June 1, TransIT offices will have a public ceremony for the buses' inaugural launch, featuring free rides, prizes and entertainment at the fleet's headquarters on Rocky Springs Road.

Copyright 2016 - The Frederick News-Post, Md.

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