CDTA Rolls Out Upstate New York's First Electric Buses | WAMC

CDTA Rolls Out Upstate New York's First Electric Buses

Jan 10, 2020

The Capital District Transportation Authority unveiled its first four zero-emission, electric buses today.

CDTA Chief Executive Officer Carm Basile
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

CDTA says the first battery electric powered buses in upstate New York are set to run as a six-month pilot program designed to evaluate the vehicles. CDTA will monitor their range, charging times, electricity usage and performance on various routes in all kinds of weather and traffic conditions presented by Albany streets. CDTA Chief Executive Officer Carm Basile:    "Well, the plan right now is to complete this pilot and to understand the operating characteristics of the vehicles and things that we need to do to change to accommodate this. Things that we need to do in the infrastructure end of the business and things we need to do with our partners at National Grid. Because now we're our partner is Grid, not these diesel providers."

Basile says the four New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE 40-foot buses will eliminate between 85 and 175 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. 109th District State Assemblymember Pat Fahy, a Democrat, says an electric fleet will also help New York state reach its goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.  “Yes, this is the culmination of years of work, which we really started after the VW settlement monies became available. That was 137 million and we fought to have the bulk of that going to our transit authorities. Some of that will go to school buses, it's going to trucks, to help electrify trucks. There's a lot of good things that after, coming out of bad news, when VW hoodwinked people."

Dashboard of the CDTA Xcelsior CHARGE transit bus.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Overall, Volkswagen agreed to pay $14.7 billion to settle allegations of cheating on emissions tests of its automobiles. CDTA says each bus costs $900,000 while a charger runs $121,000. Training and maintenance costs are about $200,000, bringing the total cost of the pilot project to $3.9 million. $950,000 in federal money, $250,000 from New York State and roughly $1.4 million from the VW settlement will be used to pay for the pilot program. CDTA says it is using $1.3 million from its vehicle replacement reserve to complete the project funding.

CDTA says each bus holds 42 batteries. The Authority has installed four chargers at its Watervliet Avenue garage, and has worked with National Grid and Sage Engineering to design appropriate upgrades of the electrical capacity at the facility.