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Gone Electric: Public Transit’s shift to Electric Buses

photo of Zack Magallanez

by Zack Magallanez
March 8, 2024

VIA electric bus

The VIA Metropolitan Transit agency recently deployed its all-electric bus fleet, representing a significant investment and stride toward its growing sustainable fleet. In March of 2021, VIA approved the purchase of eight 40-foot electric buses, known as "ARC,” which stands for arc discharge technology, with the help of a federal grant that the agency was awarded. VIA is not only helping to reduce emissions in the region but also enhancing the overall commuting experience for its passengers. These new buses showcase numerous environmentally friendly features, including zero tailpipe emissions, seating for 38 passengers, and a rapid charging time of four hours or less. Modern amenities like USB charger ports at every seat further align with VIA's commitment to providing a tech-friendly and comfortable public transportation experience.

VIA’s all-electric fleet deployment aligns with the worldwide trend highlighted by Bloomberg NEF's Electric Vehicle Outlook, predicting that by 2032, approximately half of the world's buses will be battery-powered. This shift is not confined to specific regions, signaling a widespread embrace of electric buses across the country and across the globe. Additionally, electric buses provide operational cost savings compared to diesel counterparts. With fewer moving parts, electric buses prove to be more fuel-efficient and require less maintenance, potentially reducing overall operating costs for transit agencies.

bipartisan infrastructure bill details

Widespread implementation of electric buses is in part due to the unprecedented amount of funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law/IIJA. The law, signed by the President in 2021, provides significant financial support and creates an opportunity for public transit agencies to accelerate the electrification of their bus fleets, contributing to new national goals to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint.

While it's widely acknowledged that the most effective way for transit to address climate concerns is by encouraging people to shift from cars to public transportation, the introduction of electric buses is undeniably a step in the right direction for protecting the natural environment. Electric buses contribute to regional environmental goals and serve as a tangible and visible commitment to sustainable practices within the overall transit system.

VIA electric bus

VIA’s electric buses represent the agencies shift towards cleaner, greener transportation options for the Bexar County region. This transition reflects the global movement toward the adoption of an electric and more efficient transportation system. The environmental benefits and cost-effectiveness of these electric buses exemplify a crucial step towards a more sustainable and economically viable future for public transit. You can experience the electric buses for yourself on the following routes: route 2, 14, 34, and 44. For more information, click here.