Continuing his #RIMomentum Tour, Governor Dan McKee and members of the State’s Congressional delegation joined the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) today to unveil Rhode Island’s first electric bus fleet.
RIPTA has received the first of 14 New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE NG™ 40-foot battery-electric buses, with the remainder of the Authority’s order to be delivered in the upcoming months. This fleet of New Flyer Xcelsior electric buses will replace the current fleet of diesel buses that operate on the R-Line, RIPTA’s most frequent and highest-ridership route, connecting Providence and Pawtucket.
“As a leader in clean, renewable energy, Rhode Island has the momentum to create a more sustainable future and our Administration is committed to advancing that goal,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Ensuring clean air, zero-emission sustainable energy, and easier access to public transportation is a priority. I thank our partners at RIPTA for their commitment to the environment and to the thousands of riders who rely on their services each and every day.”
The deployment creates RIPTA’s first fully electric route which will lower emissions on this key corridor, where many low-income and diverse communities have been affected by air pollution. The bright green buses, equipped with 320 kWH batteries, also mark RIPTA’s commitment to cleaner and more sustainable public transportation.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 40-foot electric bus can save up to 135 metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) annually, which is what a traditional 40-foot clean diesel bus would emit per year.
“Electrifying these buses is important for the environment, but it is also part of our state’s commitment to equity. A zero-emission R-Line means a reduction of thousands of metric tons of greenhouse gases being emitted in Providence and Pawtucket,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “This is just the start of our commitment to providing all of Rhode Island with clean, reliable, and affordable public transportation.”
The fleet will be electrified by high-powered charging infrastructure – the State’s first Electric Bus In-Line Charging Station – located on Broad Street at the Providence/Cranston city line. The station, featuring four overhead pantograph chargers, allows for frequent recharging en route without human interaction. To charge, the bus pulls into the charging station and the overhead pantograph lowers from the station to the bus bars installed on the roof of the bus to charge. After charging for an estimated 5 to 9 minutes, the vehicle can return to service.
Each New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE NG™ 40-foot heavy-duty transit bus costs $1,072,551.13. Fleet funding was provided by the Federal Transit Administration, Volkswagen settlement funds, and RIPTA capital funds.
“The arrival of these New Flyer electric buses demonstrates RIPTA’s commitment to mitigating climate change and contributing to a zero-emission future,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA CEO. “These electric buses are yet another example of how public transportation can help achieve cleaner air quality. We already know that using public transportation as opposed to single occupancy vehicles is beneficial to our environment. Switching to electric buses only furthers the benefits of using public transportation.”
“I helped deliver over $37 million in federal funding since 2018 to help RIPTA replace older diesel buses with new, clean-energy, cost-efficient vehicles and install the related charging infrastructure, including a $5 million Low-No Emissions Bus Grant to help purchase these R-Line electric buses. Getting these buses on the road will improve service for riders, air quality for the public, and save taxpayers money on fuel and maintenance costs,” said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who in addition to delivering Low-No Emissions Bus Grant funds also helped secure a new $22.37 million federal RAISE grant this month for RIPTA to procure 25 new electric buses and recharging infrastructure to electrify Aquidneck Island bus service.
“RIPTA’s fully electric bus fleet will provide a convenient, environmentally friendly way to travel between Pawtucket and our capital city,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “These state-of-the-art buses are a win for riders and a good investment in improving air quality in some of Rhode Island’s most densely populated neighborhoods. I’m glad to have helped secure the federal funding to bring these buses online, and I look forward to getting more clean vehicles on the road via the landmark infrastructure and climate bills we’ve passed in recent months.”
“By replacing the R-Line buses with an electric fleet, RIPTA is delivering efficient, reliable, and environmentally-friendly service to Rhode Islanders commuting along the state’s busiest route,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “I’m proud that federal dollars are hard at work to help the Ocean State transition away from dirty, fossil fuels and toward and cleaner, greener future for all RIPTA riders.”
“I’m proud to join RIPTA and the State of Rhode Island for this fleet unveiling,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “Climate change is one of the most serious threats of our lifetime, and these 14 electric buses will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint, not only benefiting the environment but also improving public health and air quality. I look forward to seeing these new buses in our neighborhoods.”
“NFI subsidiary New Flyer is pleased to provide these electric buses to enable RIPTA’s transition to zero-emission at scale,” said Chris Stoddart, President, North American Bus and Coach, NFI. “Our battery-electric buses deliver immediate emissions reduction. Together, we are reducing greenhouse gases, providing cleaner air, and working to create healthier communities.”
Zero Emissions Electric Bus Program
In May 2018, the State of Rhode Island announced that approximately $14.4 million of the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds would be used to take important steps toward improving air quality in Rhode Island – including the acquisition of electric buses for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. In 2019, RIPTA launched a pilot program with three leased all-electric buses. This first phase of the pilot provided RIPTA with an opportunity to learn about the new technology, train staff, and test the performance of the electric buses on a variety of RIPTA routes. Now that phase is complete, RIPTA is moving forward with the construction of the state’s first in-line charging station, as well as the purchase of 14 electric buses as permanent additions to its fleet. Visit RIPTA.com/electric-bus to learn more about the Authority’s Zero Emissions Electric Bus Program.
In-Line Charging Station
The roughly $6.7 million project, which BOND Civil & Utility Construction, Inc. is expected to complete by Spring 2023, is funded largely by a Volkswagen settlement fund. The remaining funds are coming from federal transit funding. BOND Civil & Utility Construction, Inc. of Medford, Massachusetts is experienced in delivering critical infrastructure, including electric bus charging stations, for institutions, major utilities, and power and energy companies.
For more information on RIPTA’s programs and services, visit RIPTA.com or call 401-781-9400.