COTA expands its sustainable fleet with new electric transit vehicles

Posted: 15 October 2021 | | No comments yet

Two new electric transit vehicles have been added to the Central Ohio Transit Authority’s environmentally friendly fleet, with the aim to further the effort to reduce the authority’s vehicle emissions.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has announced the expansion of its environmentally friendly fleet with the addition of its first two new electric transit vehicles, running on several routes daily, in a continued effort to reduce the authority’s vehicle emissions.

Following extensive and successful safety and efficiency testing at the most comprehensive vehicle testing lab in the country, the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC) in East Liberty, Ohio, and at the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research (CAR), COTA expects the two new electric transit vehicles to begin service on 11 October 2021.

“Our ambitious and achievable goals are for COTA to be diesel-free by 2025, with net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and these electric transit vehicles are the latest step that we are taking to make this a reality,” said Joanna M. Pinkerton, COTA’s President and CEO. “This is an integral part of COTA’s ongoing evolution of our fleet to ensure that we are doing all that we can to serve our communities and deliver environmentally responsible transportation solutions, which will contribute to the health and prosperity of our neighbourhoods.”

COTA recently showcased its new electric fleet to Columbus City Hall employees during an open house with Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA), which also has electric vehicles in its fleet.

Shannon Hardin, Columbus City Council President, commented: “I’m thrilled that COTA and the CRAA are investing in electric buses for the future of our city. The introduction of these new electric transit vehicles and COTA’s commitment to remove all diesel vehicles from our roads by 2025 is a big deal for Columbus residents. Furthermore, these partners are pushing towards our community’s goal of becoming carbon neutral. By prioritising affordable, sustainable transit and providing transportation choices, we can get there.”

The two electric transit vehicles from New Flyer are COTA’s formal introduction of electric vehicles into the Columbus Region’s transit operations. Based on test results, which demonstrated a reach of more than 150 miles on a single charge, the electric coaches will now be integrated into COTA’s current system.

Among the other tests performed at TRC and CAR were obstacle avoidance, braking performance, interior and exterior noise measurement, energy economy and energy consumption. These also included dynamometer-based tests, which allow for the performance testing of acceleration, gradeability and top speed of the vehicles while stationary.

COTA’s board in September 2021 approved the purchase of eight additional electric coaches in 2022, and COTA is also on track to purchase 28 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles each year until 2025, when all diesel transit vehicles will be retired.

COTA’s current fleet consists of 234 CNG vehicles, six diesel-electric hybrids and the two new electric vehicles, with just 79 diesel vehicles remaining. Across the country, there only about 700 electric transit vehicles currently in public transit operation. However, as technology and infrastructure continues to improve, at least a third of the country’s 70,000 public transit vehicles will be electric by 2045. COTA will continue to study the feasibility of electric coaches across its fleet.

In addition to its vehicle initiative, COTA has already converted to all renewable sources of energy for the operation of all its facilities.