County Executive George Latimer announced the expansion of the county’s electric vehicle fleet after receiving a $1.5 million grant provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for the purchase of two 40-foot battery-powered electric buses.
The grant money will be put toward replacing two diesel buses with New Flyer buses, the same manufacturer that previously provided the county’s fleet with electric vehicles in 2018.
“We saw tremendous success when the county added 78 diesel-electric buses to its fleet, with hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel being saved annually and a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions polluting our environment,” says Latimer. “Westchester County has proven our commitment to promoting public transportation as a means to decrease the number of vehicles on the road, traffic congestion, and air pollution, as well as supporting a long-term plan to phase in additional clean vehicles as we can get them.”
The county is working closely with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to purchase and install chargers at its Valhalla garage, to ensure the buses will be properly stored and maintained. This purchase will bring the county’s electric bus total up to six, as a recent grant from the NYPA is funding four additional chargers and buses to be ordered next month.
“These all-electric buses are a natural progression from our previous diesel/electric hybrid bus acquisitions,” says County Department of Public Works and Transportation Commissioner Hugh Greechan. “Those vehicles were specially designed with the optional ability to run for distances of up to a mile on battery power alone.”
Greechan highlights the previous diesel/electric hybrid bus’ ability to shut off the diesel when traveling in congested areas. This feature’s success has encouraged the shift to fully battery-electric buses.
Zero-emissions vehicles are significantly cleaner and more energy efficient than traditional diesel vehicles, as they reduce pollutants associated with greenhouse gases and health conditions such as respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
“These state-of-the-art buses will provide riders with a safe and efficient ride all while helping the environment,” says U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. “Investment in transportation infrastructure is critical for Westchester residents and businesses as we rebuild the Lower Hudson Valley economy.”
As the workhorses of the Bee-Line transport system, these 40-foot buses generated nearly 3 million revenue miles in 2019 and operate on routes that have a combined daily weekday ridership (pre-COVID-19) of 84,000, roughly 95% of the Bee-Line’s daily weekday ridership.
The new buses contain state-of-the-art safety and comfort features, including driver safety shields composed of half-inch thick semi-bulletproof glass, cantilevered seats and “jerkless” transmission to prevent tripping, improved LED lighting, and low-floors with a “kneeling” feature that eases boarding for those with mobility challenges.
“Public transit is critical for New Yorkers now more than ever,” says U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “We must secure reliable transit for first responders, health care workers, and citizens who depend on it.”