WTA’s First Two Zero-Emission Buses Arrive in Whatcom County

Submitted by Whatcom Transportation Authority

WTA has been fielding calls and questions on social media, regarding sightings of big, blue, new, 100% electric buses on our local roads. While not yet in service, these buses are out and about as WTA Transit Drivers get trained on how to operate them. These are WTA’s first two zero-emission electric buses, and they’ll soon be serving transit routes throughout Whatcom County.

WTA received eighty percent of the funding for these buses through a “Low or No Emissions Bus Program” grant from the Federal Transit Administration, submitted in 2018. In addition to two electric buses, the grant funded the purchase and installation of two electric bus chargers. 

With a battery capacity of 444 kWh, WTA anticipates these buses’ range to be 150 miles, with an energy usage of 2.3 kWh per mile. The buses can be fully charged in under four hours. They feature a direct-drive traction motor and use energy recovered from a regenerative braking system. The buses seat 36 passengers, with a total capacity of 75. Like the rest of WTA’s fleet, they are built on a low floor platform manufactured by GILLIG. In addition to allowing for safer, faster, and easier boarding for passengers, this creates efficiencies in training (both for Transit Operators and Fleet Mechanics), as well as in the inventory of parts.

WTA’s most recent Strategic Plan calls for the agency to protect and preserve the environment by reducing its net carbon output. The plan sets clear direction for WTA to pursue alternative fuels and cleaner sources of energy. WTA’s Board Chair and Bellingham City Council Member Michael Lilliquist said, “Transitioning to zero-emission buses is part of a long-term vision. These electric buses support safe, reliable service for riders while reducing greenhouse gasses, and improving air quality for everyone.” 

Electric buses are expected to enter service in June of 2021.  For a short video, click here.

WTA provides fixed route, paratransit, rural dial-a-ride, and vanpool service in Whatcom County, Washington. WTA’s mission is to enhance our community by delivering safe, reliable, efficient and friendly service. For route and schedule information, call (360) 676-7433 or visit www.ridewta.com.

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