StarTran has received a $1.45 million federal grant to purchase two electric buses to replace heavy-duty diesel buses.
StarTran’s project was one of 51 projects in 39 states selected for $55 million in grants from the Federal Transit Administration's low- or no-emission vehicle program.
The grant, which also funds electric-charging stations for the buses, will be matched by $500,000 in local funds.
The electric buses, which cost about $300,000 more than a compressed-natural gas bus, will be able to travel 200 miles before recharging.
Since most city buses run about 300 miles a day, the two buses will be used during peak hours and charged in between, according to Transit Manager Mike Davis.
“This project will further enhance StarTran’s reputation as a transit industry leader in the use and promotion of alternative fuels,” Davis said.
“As we replace older vehicles, our focus continues to be on diversifying our fuel resources and cutting emissions.”
Davis said each electric bus will save on fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions by 1,690 tons over its 12-year life span. Each bus' reduced emissions are equivalent to removing 27 cars from the road, he said.
The electric buses are expected to be delivered in late 2018 and in service in early 2019.
StarTran’s fleet includes 67 full-size buses and 13 HandiVans. Nearly one-third of the vehicles will use compressed natural gas by spring 2018. That includes 13 buses, two trolleys and 11 HandiVans. Compressed natural gas offers increased environmental benefits, operates more quietly than diesel and, on average, costs less per gallon than diesel, according to a news release.