NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (February 6, 2020) — The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority welcomed its first three all-electric, zero-emissions buses to the fleet Tuesday with a ceremony at the CARTA operations facility.
CARTA Board Chairman Mike Seekings (middle) plugs in the charging cable on the first of three all-electric, zero-emission buses Tuesday, February 4, 2020, during a plug-in ceremony celebrating the vehicles going into full service. CARTA recently acquired the zero-emission buses as part of the Federal Transportation Authority’s Low- or No-Emission (Low-No) Grant program. (Photo by Marquel Coaxum/CARTA)
With the CARTA board, project partners and CARTA staff present to commemorate the occasion, CARTA Board Chairman Mike Seekings plugged in the first bus, marking the next significant step forward in the regional transit strategy.
“This is a proud day for CARTA,” Seekings said. “There’s been really hard work by our staff, by the board, and by everyone in the community to say we support public transit, we support our community, we support our riders, we support our environment, and we support the future.”
The new all-electric buses are projected to run approximately 100-130 zero-emission miles on a single charge before heading in for a top off at the charging station. This can fluctuate depending on road and weather conditions, and other energy consumption factors such as operating air conditioning or heating.
The vehicles can have up to a 500% efficiency increase over diesel engine buses, while also having a nearly 75% energy cost reduction. This equals zero pounds of annual carbon dioxide emissions compared to 229K pounds that come from diesel engine buses.
The zero-emissions buses also have a much lower sound output with a 50% noise reduction level compared to a typical city bus.
Partnerships in Progress
One of the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Government’s Regional Transit Framework Plan’s vision is to bring clean energy mass transit to the TriCounty. With that comes working with a set of vital partners, one being Greenville, S.C., bus manufacturer, Proterra, Inc.
“This is a very big deal for us and we’re very appreciative of the partnership with your staff and Dominion Energy,” said Eric Reynolds, the sales director with Proterra who worked on the project. “It’s not easy to deploy electric buses. CARTA’s made a commitment to zero-emission technology, to reducing greenhouse gases and less dependency on fossil fuels, and all of this is a big deal and something everyone should tip their hats to.”
Another important partner was Dominion Energy.
“We met with the Proterra and CARTA team about delivering them a new dedicated source of energy to power these buses and to make sure we had our facilities installed from day one to make sure we could supply them with power on their delivery to the region,” said Paul Hampton, the account manager with Dominion Energy. “We’re extremely excited to have our first all-electric, zero-emission, extremely quiet buses roll into the Charleston area.”
In his final comments before sending the zero-emissions fleet into service, Chairman Seekings took another moment to thank everyone involved who helped bring clean mass transit to the region.
“Everyone who’s been a partner to this, everyone who’s been a part of this, to the community, to the CARTA board here behind me, to our staff led by Ron Mitchum, we thank you for being part of making the vision of electric buses a brighter future, a cleaner future, a future that’s good for our community, a reality here at CARTA.”