The world temperatures are rising at a pace, which could lead to a situation from where turning back could become completely impossible. As the issue needs attention, several cities and states in the America are opting the option of electric buses as a part of mid-century climate change goals for the first time.
Following these objectives and a plunge in the prices of lithium-ion batteries, several transportation agencies are switching to e-buses to replace the dirtier diesel ones. Although less than china, the number of electric buses in the United States are growing. At present, California is leading with more than 200 e-buses in service and several hundred more in overdue orders.
According to a recent report from a clean transportation advocacy group, CALSTART, each state in the US has a transit agency that owns, or will soon own, at least one e-bus.
The coastal city of Gulfport, Mississippi, would soon see its first fully-electric bus cruising through the downtown streets. Wichita in Kansas has received a federal grant and will be operating the bus as early as this month. Besides, Portland, Maine, also received a grant to buy its first two electric buses, which are expected to roll out in 2021.
However, as the country is moving towards a better option, the demand for electronic buses is surpassing the manufacturer’s ability to ensure sufficient supply. Consequently, there is a backlog of hundreds of orders in the US. “Almost every state now has a program. So that is unique—it’s gone beyond interest in just a few states,” said Fred Silver, vice president of CALSTART.
Apart from that, local agencies are facing other challenges, including the high cost of e-buses in comparison to diesel, need to build out charging infrastructure to support them, and the electricity rates that have cut into the savings in some cities. Despite these concerns, urban leaders still view the long-term benefits that the electric buses would bring.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency data, the transportation sector in the US has become the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for nearly 30 per cent of the country’s total contribution. Cities and states are viewing electronic buses as a feasible way to combat climate change.
Transit agencies, on the other hand, believe that the move will bring more than just climate benefits, including health benefits and long-term cost savings. The diesel emissions from vehicles causes respiratory diseases and exacerbate asthma. Moreover, refuelling and maintenance costs would be comparatively cheaper for electric buses. Two buses in Chicago reportedly save the city $24,000 a year in fuel costs.
At present, nearly 650 e-buses move on the roads of America. However, by 2045, at least a third of country’s 70,000 public transit buses will be all-electric, under the pledge by several cities, states and transit agencies.