The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is adding 19 new buses this month. Some are electric and some are hybrid, as part of its effort to have an all-alternative-fuel fleet by 2035. (navee/Adobe Stock)
February 11, 2021
RENO, Nev. — Washoe County’s transit fleet is getting greener, with 17 new hybrid electric-biodiesel buses, and two new electric buses this month.
The additions bring the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) bus fleet to 80% electric or hybrid-alternative fuel.
David Carr, fleet and facilities manager for the RTC, said the goal is to have all buses running on alternative energy by 2035.
“They’re clean, they’re new, gives the passengers I think, a better quality of transport,” Carr explained. “And they’re not exposed to the same pollutants they would be if they were in a regular diesel bus.”
Carr noted moving away from diesel is cost-efficient, in addition to having a positive impact on the environment. The electric buses have no tailpipe emissions, and the hybrids get a 60% greater fuel economy.
Dana Lowell, environmental consultant for M.J. Bradley and Associates, said electric vehicles are a win-win-win. They save money on gasoline over time for the consumer, they reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and they’re good for everyone who uses electricity in Nevada.
“It’s part of the significant opportunity of electric vehicles,” Lowell observed. “To better utilize the existing grid infrastructure, and therefore drive down costs for all electric use, not just for electric vehicles.”
And he noted traditional auto manufacturers are starting to embrace electrification. For example, General Motors used its Super Bowl commercial to highlight its new electric cars.
But Lowell pointed out many electric cars on the market are still too expensive, and charging infrastructure is limited.
He emphasized there are policy solutions from tax credits for consumers, to investments in charging stations, and he added it’s worth it, as Nevada’s electric grid moves towards more renewable energy as well.
“An electric vehicle is the only vehicle you could ever possibly buy that has the possibility of getting cleaner over its lifetime,” Lowell remarked.
Lowell concluded even though parts of the country still burn significant amounts of coal, as they turn toward renewables, the benefits of electric vehicles will only grow.