SolTrans Unveils New All-Electric and CNG Buses

Solano County Transit (SolTrans) will begin phasing out eight of the older buses in its fleet of 50-plus vehicles to make room for two electric buses and six compressed natural gas (CNG) buses-vehicles that were unveiled at a ceremony in Vallejo last month.

All new SolTrans electric buses will help Solano County residentsí quality of life by improving air quality and reducing noise pollution.

BY BILL PICTURE

 

Solano County Transit (SolTrans) will begin phasing out eight of the older buses in its fleet of 50-plus vehicles to make room for two electric buses and six compressed natural gas (CNG) buses—vehicles that were unveiled at a ceremony in Vallejo last month.

 

The zero-emission electric buses, which are wrapped in a specially designed mural created by local artist Miro Salazar, will make in-county trips alongside SolTrans’ existing local fleet of hybrid buses. The CNG buses will be added to SolTrans’ commuter fleet, which connects Solano, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

 

When SolTrans announced last March that it had placed the order for the first two electric buses, Executive Director Mona Babauta told reporters, “This is an excellent example of the forward thinking attitude towards technology and transportation that contributes to making Solano County a great place to live.” In addition to helping improve air quality, Babauta said the electric buses would further improve Solano County residents’ quality of life by reducing noise pollution, referring to the electric buses as “whisper quiet.”

 

At the unveiling ceremony on March 3, SolTrans also announced it’s in the process of breaking ground on a new CNG fueling station in Vallejo. Right now, the closest CNG fueling station is about 15 minutes away, in American Canyon.

 

The CNG buses cost SolTrans about $783,000 each; the electric buses are $754,000 each. The buses were purchased with funds made available to the Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement and Service Enhancement Account Program (PRTIMSEA) created by Proposition 1B, which is known as the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality and Port Security Bond Act of 2006.

 

Clean diesel had become the standard for SolTrans’ commuter fleet. Clean diesel buses emit about 10 percent less carbon dioxide than traditional buses. CNG technology cuts emissions even more, making it the obvious choice for a green-conscious county.

       

SolTrans Program Analyst Mandi Renshaw said that the SolTrans Board of Directors has already committed to replacing the rest of its clean diesel commuter buses with CNG buses. “Our goal is to have seventeen CNG vehicles by 2020,” she said. “Each year, SolTrans will grow its CNG fleet by four to six buses, staggering the purchase over the course of four years to prolong the useful life of our fleet.”