Following its endowment of a $6 million grant in 2016 and another $2.4 million in local, state and federal funds, Athens-Clarke County Transit purchased 12 eco-friendly electric hybrid buses, which are launching service this week.
Two buses were already tested by the public on Friday, Feb. 16, as reported in The Red & Black.
The goal of these buses is to lower emissions and maintenance costs.
They will be low-emission diesel buses, meeting the newest clean air standards of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to an Athens-Clarke County press release. They will also use low energy LED lights inside of the buses.
“The new buses will more than double the fuel efficiency of the buses that they are replacing and improve fuel consumption by up to 125 percent over a typical bus,” the press release read. “Additionally, the braking systems significantly extend the brake change interval by as much as 150 percent.”
They are also expected to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, according to the press release.
Fuel mileage for the hybrid buses will be around 7 ½ mpg, compared to the current 2 ½ mpg of the diesel buses while carbon dioxide emissions will be lowered by 3,000 tons.
These numbers mean $16.7 million saved for taxpayers in fuel costs, said Andrew Saunders, director of ACC Office of Sustainability.
“It’s a win all the way around,” Saunders said. “If we look at it at from the environmental standpoint, we have less emissions … if we look at it from the economic [standpoint], the reduced operating cost means that we can keep fairs lower. If we look at it from the people, by reducing those costs, we’re able to either keep fairs low or invest in new routes.”
Part of the funds from the $75 million GO! Transit Capital Program that was awarded to 11 state transit projects.
ACC Transit received $6 million from this program and used grants from the Federal Transit Administration, the Georgia Department of Transportation and 2011 TSPLOST funds for the other $2.4 million.
The 12 hybrid buses have replaced 12 older buses that “have exceeded their useful life span and are experiencing increased operating and maintenance costs,” the press release said.
Half of the ACC daily bus fleet, seating 37 passengers on each bus with additional space for standing will be represented by these buses.
The buses also feature a new automated vehicle-locating system, which allows passengers to receive bus arrival notifications through email and text messages.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony introducing the new buses will take place on Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. at the ACC Multimodal Transportation Center.
In about a year, ACC Transit plans to implement three more hybrid buses into service from additional funding.
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