After almost a century since electric-powered public transportation first served the Gate City, Greensboro Transit Authority ushered in a new era of transit technology with North Carolina’s first battery-electric rechargeable buses used in active passenger service. The departure took take place January 31 at the J. Douglas Galyon Depot. Meeting Room adjacent to the bus slip area.

The environmentally friendly 40-foot buses are powered by under-floor batteries, capable of providing up to 175-200 miles of sustainable transportation service before recharging is required. The use of electric motors not only brings a much quieter ride for passengers and the community, but it eliminates the use of combustible diesel fuel and associated exhaust. The sole emission from the bus is water.

“We started looking into replacing our diesel fleet with electric buses due to the high cost of maintaining and operating a diesel bus,” said Adam Fischer, transportation director. “We estimate that we will save $30,000/bus per year with an electric bus versus a diesel bus due to reduced operating and maintenance costs. Zero emissions, no tail pipe, and reduced bus noise are a bonus.”

Made in the USA and manufactured by Proterra, an industry-leading manufacturer of electric buses based in Greenville, S.C., the vehicles incorporate patented technology capable of recharging the bus in as little as eight minutes through an overhead quick charger located at the depot. Overnight chargers constructed at the GTA maintenance facility will ensure the buses start each day at 100 percent power. Additional charging takes place in service through “regenerative braking” that directs energy from braking back into the batteries. The conversion to battery-electric from diesel is expected to save up to $350,000 per bus in reduced fuel and maintenance costs over its useful life. The switch will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 687,500 pounds per year.

Along with the new operational technology, the buses are designed for an enhanced rider experience with the addition of a rear window and moon roofs to eliminate a claustrophobic environment. Underneath the comfortable padded seating, riders will find USB ports for charging mobile devices on the go. As with all of the GTA fleet, the buses are accessible for persons with disabilities featuring kneeling capability, loading ramp, audio announcements and wheelchair tie-downs.