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Electric Buses Coming To RDU in 2019

The Proterra company will make the buses that will come to RDU in 2019.

Updated Sept. 19, 9:15 a.m.

GoTriangle will not receive a competitive federal grant to buy electric buses. The transit authority said in a press release that the application process has better prepared GoRaleigh, GoCary, GoTriangle and Chapel Hill Transit to explore viable alternatives to diesel buses moving forward.

The buses cost almost $1 million each. GoTriangle says it will continue to look for other funding and finance opportunities together to add electric buses to local fleets.

Sept. 4, 10 a.m.

Passengers flying out of Raleigh Durham International Airport will be able to lower their carbon footprint in 2019. RDU has secured a $1.6 million federal grant to cover half the cost of four new electric buses.

GoTriangle Transit Authority is asking the Federal Transportation Administration for a similar deal. General Manager Jeff Mann says GoTriangle is asking for seven zero-emission buses, one of which might make regular stops at RDU.

“It's a great opportunity to improve air quality at the airport, not only through their vehicles that they're going to operate but also through GoTriangle electric vehicles, hopefully, if this grant's successful,” Mann said.

Electric buses cost about twice as much as diesel ones up front, but they're cheaper to operate. Mann said a diesel bus costs about $500,000. An electric bus with a charger costs twice as much.

“So it's a cleaner vehicle, a more efficient vehicle, a better lifecycle cost overall,” Mann said. “But the upfront cost is obviously higher.”

RDU Spokesman Andrew Sawyer said the total bill will come to about $3.4 million, but the electric buses should be cheaper in the long run.

“They'll have a smoother and quicker acceleration. You'll virtually not hear them upon approach and be very quiet onboard environment,” Sawyer said. “They'll be saving a lot of energy as well. They've even got technology that, as the brakes are applied, the energy from the brakes stopping will help recharge the batteries as well.”

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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