Electric Bus on the Road
October 21, 2019

Unleashing Bus Electrification in America

By: Jenna Barron

We know there are many reasons why buses should go electric:

  • Less local air pollution, leading to better health for surrounding communities
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which helps slow the effects of climate change
  • Equitable electrification – all people can benefit from transit electrification, not just those who can afford personal electric cars;
  • Lower total cost of ownership, because increased upfront costs are offset by reductions in maintenance and fueling expenses over the lifetime of the bus.

But how do we scale up this solution and get more electric buses on the road?

Last week, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Environment America Research & Policy Center, and Frontier Group released a report that assembles the lessons learned from U.S. cities already deploying electric buses from California to Massachusetts. The report includes recommendations for how elected officials, utilities, transit agencies, and school districts can work together to electrify entire bus fleets.

The report also highlights and recommends inclusive financing for electric bus fleets:

Utilities should implement financing programs in which they front the initial investment for electric buses and allow cities and school districts to pay back on utility bills as they save on fuel and maintenance costs. These “pay as you save” (PAYS) financing programs can help agencies overcome the higher upfront costs of electric buses and deliver monetary savings immediately.

Our work to champion this solution has led us to win four international searches for breakthrough climate strategies. Leveraging the resources available to get more electric buses for the same amount of funding helps scale the electric bus solution. When applied to the transportation sector, the PAYS® system can break through the upfront cost barrier for batteries and charging stations by allowing a utility to invest directly in the equipment that drives up the premium cost of electric buses.

The first step to any such program is to complete due diligence by engaging key relevant stakeholders, such as elected officials, the utility, and the fleet managers to conduct financial and environmental impact analysis. Clean Energy Works has completed these analysis to help build the business case in locations across the United States and internationally. 

Contact us if you are interested in learning more about how to get things started.

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