By The Associated Press and Tessa Roy, WPRO News
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island’s public transportation agency has its first electric buses.
Gov. Gina Raimondo joined federal and state officials Monday to unveil the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s three new zero-emissions, electric buses. She called it a “major step toward a cleaner and greener future.”
“We bought three buses now, like the ones we just rode on, and over the next four years, we’re going to be replacing about one third of our fleet. So four years from now, we think we’ll have a third of our fleet to be electric,” she said.
A number of officials, including Rhode Island’s whole congressional delegation [including Congressman Langevin], took rides on the new buses on Monday. Senator Jack Reed said they will benefit not just the environment, but also public health.
“We have, particularly in urban areas, significant outbreaks of of asthma, chronic lung problems. One of the major contributing factors is transportation, cars, buses. Once we get those under control, we’re going to have a situation with better health outcome,” he said.
The leased buses will be tested and staff will be trained in the maintenance and charging of the vehicles before they are put in service.
The $14.4 million plan includes replacement of aging diesel buses with the purchase of 16 to 20 electric buses starting in 2021, as well as installation of a charging infrastructure in the state for private electric vehicles.
The state’s portion of the settlement with Volkswagen over its emissions testing scandal will help pay for the program.