Rock Region METRO launches first zero-emission mass transit buses
In line with national objectives to reduce air pollution, Rock Region METRO’s new zero-emission buses will foster a greener future and provide sustainable transportation options to the people of Arkansas.
Credit: Rock Region METRO
Rock Region Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) has announced that it has launched Arkansas’ first five zero-emission mass transit buses, marking a significant step towards a sustainable future. The 40-foot vehicles, powered by battery electric technology, will be deployed on area streets in July 2023 after additional staff training.
The procurement of these buses has been made possible by a $4.9 million competitive grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) under the ‘Shock the Rock’ initiative. This grant, the largest the agency has received, has covered the purchase of the buses as well as the necessary charging infrastructure.
“The Rock Region METRO team is proud to contribute to a more sustainable future by operating Arkansas’ first electric mass transit buses,” said Justin Avery, Rock Region METRO CEO. “Sharing your ride just got even more sustainable.”
The launch of the electric buses is scheduled for early-to-mid-July, following training for operators and maintenance teams. The initial months will involve evaluating the charging management process, considering factors such as temperature, HVAC settings, driver behaviour and terrain that impact the operational range. The buses will be rotated among seven routes, including Baptist Medical Center, West Markham, Rodney Parham, McCain Mall, Rosedale, University Ave./Mabelvale and Baseline/Southwest.
By introducing the battery electric buses, Rock Region METRO will retire its remaining diesel buses, completing its transition away from diesel-fuelled vehicles by the end of 2025. This move aligns with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s strategic objectives to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in disadvantaged communities. It also supports the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s long-term plan for multimodal transportation alternatives and the Metroplan Central Arkansas 2050 transportation plan goals, which aim to foster sustainable energy efforts, improve air quality, and promote economic growth.
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