Zero Emissions Fleet Transition

Zero Emissions
Fleet Transition

RIPTA’s path to fleet electrification

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Rhode Island’s first fully electric route

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Electrifying Aquidneck Island

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Everything you want to know about going electric!

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A Greener Rhode Island

RIPTA plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by removing millions of single occupancy vehicle trips every year. In Rhode Island, 36% of all the carbon emissions originate from the transportation sector which includes single occupancy cars, transit and school buses, and trucks.  While RIPTA’s emissions account for only about 0.1% of the State’s total emissions, riding with RIPTA, whether by bus, vanpool, carpool, or bicycle, is one of the best ways to make a substantial positive impact on the environment. Fixed-route transit, by nature, efficiently transports large numbers of people while maintaining a minimal carbon footprint, making it an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

RIPTA’s path to fleet electrification began in May 2018, when the State of Rhode Island allocated nearly $10 million of its Volkswagen settlement funds towards replacing older diesel buses slated for retirement with new, all-electric, zero-emission buses. A portion of these funds were put aside for a pilot demonstration with three leased all-electric buses. This pilot provided RIPTA with an opportunity to learn about the new technology, train staff, and test the performance and limitations of the buses on a variety of routes to ensure that fleet electrification would be a success.

R-Line Electrification

Rhode Island’s First Electric Fleet

After considerable analysis of vehicle performance, range, and energy consumption data collected in the initial demonstration buses, RIPTA made the first major step toward transitioning away from diesel-based propulsion and toward a greener, more sustainable bus fleet with the purchase of fourteen (14) New Flyer Xcelesor XE40 battery-electric buses, all of which will be exclusively assigned to run on the R-Line.

The R-Line is RIPTA’s busiest and most frequent service connecting the cities of Providence, Cranston, and Pawtucket, carrying approximately 9,000 riders each day. Fully electrifying this route will result in converting 20% of all RIPTA passenger trips to zero-emissions.

The deployment creates RIPTA’s first fully electric route which will lower emissions on a key corridor, where many low-income and diverse communities have been affected by air pollution and experience high asthma rates. The bright green buses, equipped with 213 kWH batteries, mark RIPTA’s commitment to cleaner and more sustainable public transportation.

Rhode Island’s First Electric Bus In-Line Charging Facility

Each bus will be regularly recharged throughout the day by a series of four 450 kW overhead pantograph heavy vehicle fast chargers located at 350 Montgomery Avenue in Cranston. This charging facility is the first of its kind in the northeast region.

The total cost of this project is $22 million and is being funded through a combination of federal and state sources including:

  • FTA 5307 Urbanized Area formula funds,
  • FTA 5339(c) Low/No Emission Vehicle grant monies,
  • Allocated monies from state’s portion of the Volkswagen Settlement Trust Fund, and State capital matching funds.

Fully electrifying an entire route, such as the R-Line, is a major milestone toward long-term fleet transition.

Newport Electrification

With the electrification of one entire route complete, the next major step toward broader statewide fleet transition is the electrification of the Aquidneck Island fleet and support operations. This project involves the full electrification of our Newport/Middletown Garage and the introduction of twenty-five (25) battery-electric buses that will operate on Routes 63, 64, 67, 68, and 69.

The garage will have its electrical systems upgraded and chargers installed to provide power to the vehicles. Additional charging infrastructure is expected to be installed at the Newport Transportation Center.

The total cost of this project is $47.76 million and is being funded through a combination of federal and state sources including:

  • FTA 5307 Urbanized Area formula funds
  • FTA 5339(c) Low/No Emission Vehicle grant monies,
  • Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity (RAISE) grant monies,
  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds by Office of Energy Resources,
  • Congressional earmarked THUD funds secured by Senator Reed in 2021, and
  • State capital matching funds.

Introducing electrified bus service in Newport and parts of South County will eliminate CO2, NOx, and other harmful pollutants from our buses. This will be particularly noticeable for those living on Route 68 in Newport’s North End which is an identified health equity zone.

Anticipated Completion: Spring 2026

Action Plan for Electrification and Service Growth

Among the key recommendations in our long-range transit master plan, Transit Forward RI 2040, is a call for substantial increases in transit services statewide. This includes more frequent service for longer hours, the introduction of services to areas not currently offered, and the creation of high frequency and high-capacity transit networks. All of these will require additional vehicles, operators, mechanics and other support staff, and new facilities and infrastructure. RIPTA - with contracted assistance from AECOM and Cambridge Systematics - is now developing a roadmap to guide the Authority going forward and provide a clearer outlook on how to achieve both objectives.

Click here to read the summary report.


Coming Soon!

Additional Resources

  • RIPTA’s Sustainable Fleet Transition Plan (2018)
  • OER/DEM/RIDOT Electrifying Transportation: A Strategy Policy Guide (2021)
  • RIPTA’s Climate Action Plan (2022)