Transit eye options for electric buses

PORT TOWNSEND – Battery-powered electric buses – BEBs – are a possibility for Jefferson Transit, especially if the agency can secure a healthy dose of federal funding.

This was the topic of discussion at the Jefferson Transit Authority’s board meeting in August, at which Kirkland-based Transpo Group presented a report on the viability of an electrified fleet.

The expense would be significant – some $ 20.2 million in total life cycle costs for capital, fuel and maintenance would mean a 40% premium for the transition to BEBs, Paul Sharman told the board. , engineer of Transpo Group.

But maintenance costs for electric buses average 58 cents per mile, unlike Jefferson Transit’s 80 cents per mile for existing diesel vehicles, Sharman said.

That’s a 27% saving before turning to potential funding sources, he said.

“There is a lot of money in the new federal [infrastructure] package for that, so you can expect that premium to drop significantly, ”he said.

This bill, which has yet to be passed by the US House of Representatives, contains $ 7.5 billion for zero-emission buses and ferries. The Department of Energy and the Federal Transit Administration are also potential funders for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure across the country, Sharman added.

Electric buses have the power to cut Jefferson Transit’s carbon emissions by 96%, the Transpo Group report notes. These are operating emissions and do not include those from manufacturing.

“I wonder what the path is to some of this federal funding,” said Heidi Eisenhour, board member and Jefferson County commissioner.

“It would be great to transition our fleet,” especially as diesel buses are reaching the end of their life, she said.

Board member and County Commissioner Kate Dean has called for a workshop in 2022 on the issue of zero emission buses. Such a meeting could take place after the improvement of electric vehicle battery technology, making the switch to BEBs more convenient.

With current battery capacities, most of Jefferson Transit’s “driver locks”, shifts in which drivers travel multiple routes, cover so many miles that they would need to stop and recharge. But with the rapid development of battery technology, said Sharman and his colleague Michael Broe, that could change in a positive direction.

Also during the Jefferson Transit meeting, board members received an update on the new Kingston Express route. Plans are underway for a morning and afternoon departure, said Miranda Nash, head of mobility operations; the route will have four stops between Port Townsend and the Kingston Ferry Terminal, where passengers can board the Washington State Ferry to Edmonds or the Kitsap Transit Walking Ferry to downtown Seattle.

The full expected fare is $ 8 per trip; the reduced fare will be $ 6, Nash said, adding that since Jefferson Transit was able to hire two new drivers this summer, she “feels more confident” that Oct. 25 will be the start date.

Information on the Kingston Express and other routes, meetings and documents, including the 2021-2026 Transit Development Plan, are available at


Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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