LANCASTER – The board of directors for the Antelope Valley Transit Authority has set a goal of becoming the nation’s first fully electric fleet by the end of fiscal year 2018.
“This is a huge undertaking for the agency but one it has been preparing for over the past two years,” stated AVTA Board Chairman Marvin Crist. “The Antelope Valley has earned a worldwide reputation for its commitment to sustainability through solar power and it’s only fitting that we should be the first region to have a fully electrified bus fleet.”
AVTA has been seeking grant funding for zero emission buses through California’s Cap and Trade program, which is dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The agency was recently awarded $24.4 million through the California State Transportation Agency to purchase 29 electric buses and install electric charging infrastructure for up to 85 vehicles.
The agency is preparing to release a Request for Proposal to purchase 85 electric buses. Although the total funding is not yet available to procure this number of vehicles, the agency has decided to move forward with the large-scale procurement in order to meet its goal of “100% Green in 2018”.
The agency will be seeking proposals to cover a five year bus replacement plan that includes ten additional buses should the agency decide to expand.
“It’s a good strategy to seek a large-scale procurement within a short period of time. It clearly shows AVTA’s commitment to electric buses and to the region’s environment,” stated Vice Chair Dianne Knippel. “AVTA’s new slogan is “Leading the Way” and that is precisely what we plan to do.”
The agency is moving forward with plans to install wireless charging stations at Lancaster City Park and at the Palmdale Transportation Center, AVTA’s two main transfer locations.
“Not only are we leading the way with zero emission vehicles, but we are also on the cutting edge of wireless charging technology which will enable the bus’ batteries to last a full service day,” stated Executive Director Len Engel. “Our goal is aggressive but I believe our staff is up for the challenge and we have the board support we need to bring this vision to fruition.”
The grant funding that has already been allocated to AVTA will purchase 13 60-foot battery electric articulated buses and 16 battery electric commuter coaches. The plan is to have these zero emission vehicles in service by the fall of 2016. Ultimately, the agency intends to use the articulated buses to develop a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service along the Route 1 corridor which travels down 10th Street West and along Palmdale Boulevard.
Director Steve Hofbauer has been a long-time proponent of regional light rail systems but supports the development of a BRT service as a first step toward improving the valley’s public transportation system.
“It is the best solution for AVTA’s current transportation needs,” stated Hofbauer. “I strongly support a BRT service as it will enable the agency to provide faster transportation that is cheaper and more flexible than a light rail system.”
AVTA provides local, commuter and dial-a-ride service to a population of more than 450,000 residents in the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale as well as the unincorporated portions of northern Los Angeles County.
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.]