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Montgomery County Rolls Out First Four Electric Buses on Ride On; Accelerates Efforts to Reduce Transportation Emissions

For Immediate Release: Thursday, September 3, 2020

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich officially launched the County’s first four Ride On electric buses with a ceremonial ‘plug-in’ event on Thursday, Sept. 3, at the David F. Bone Equipment Maintenance and Transit Operations Center in Rockville. The buses will go into service on Friday morning. County Council President Sidney Katz, Council Transportation and Environment Committee Chair Tom Hucker, Department of General Services (DGS) Director David Dise and Department of Transportation (MCDOT) Director Chris Conklin joined County Executive Elrich for the event.

Each of the 35-foot buses, manufactured by Proterra, is approximately four to five times more efficient than diesel buses. The four buses combined will provide an estimated annual operating savings of nearly $150,000. The cost of each bus is approximately $793,500. A $1.75 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration Low or No Emission Competitive Program helped to fund the new electric buses.

“I’m thrilled that we are embarking on this important and necessary effort. Electric buses are a critical part of the County’s strategy to use innovative technology to reduce fuel consumption, cut emission of harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases and reduce the environmental impact of the County’s fleet,” said County Executive Elrich. “The grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration is helping us meet our goal of eliminating greenhouse emissions by 2035.”

Council President Sidney Katz said: “The addition of these four electric Ride On busses are a very exciting first step in moving toward a more efficient and greener fleet. We are fortunate during this time of constrained budgets to be able to secure these Federal funds to begin to move us in the right direction. The County Council looks forward to continuing to work with MCDOT in these efforts.”

The new buses produce zero emissions during operations and also contribute to reducing noise pollution through their noticeably quiet operation. The average cost per mile for an electric bus is $0.21 per mile compared to $0.91 per mile for a diesel bus. An electric bus eliminates virtually all the fluids found in a traditional bus. Additionally, the braking system uses regenerative braking, which takes motion and heat produced from the braking process and converts it to electricity stored in the batteries, extending brake change intervals. Eliminating many mechanical components and replacing them with electrical ones improves reliability, increases efficiency and reduces maintenance costs.  

The four buses are part of the County’s Division of Fleet Management Services managed by the DGS. Fleet services is expected to add 10 additional buses by 2022 as part of the FTA Bus and Bus Facilities Grant.

“These electric buses are only the first step in a strategy to convert the entire transit fleet to electric, fulfilling the County’s commitment to a clean environment and meet climate goals established by the County Executive and Council,” said DGS Director Dise. “DGS is proud to include this into a larger strategy of sustainability and resilience in the fleet and all county buildings.”

The buses will operate on Ride On Routes 18 and 25, generally serving Langley Park, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Bus schedules continue to operate modified service in response to the COVID-19 health crisis, and details on current schedules and safety measures can be viewed in the MCDOT website.

“We are thrilled to have our first electric buses on the road, providing emissions-free service that benefits our passengers and the entire surrounding community,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “Keep an eye out for these attractive and quiet new vehicles with signage indicating, ‘All Electric. Zero Emissions.’ We will be closely monitoring their performance to inform our plans to deploy electric buses throughout our transit system.”

DGS is developing a micro-grid to support electric bus charging at the Silver Spring Transit Depot where the buses will be located. The microgrid is an onsite clean power generation system designed to operate independent of the power grid and will be able to charge the future fleet of electric buses with electricity generated by onsite solar panels. The site is scheduled to be commissioned in 2021.

For more information about MCDOT’s initiatives to support sustainable transportation options, visit the MCDOT’s Green Initiatives website.

For more information about the County’s broader plans to combat the climate emergency, visit the County’s Climate Page.  

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Release ID: 20-472
Media Contact: Neil H. Greenberger 240-205-1915