EDGARTOWN – The Vineyard Transit Authority is seeking grant funding to turn its bus fleet green.
Authority Administrator Angela Grant recently updated Edgartown Selectmen on the initiative to transform buses from diesel powered to electric.
“We applied for a grant in the middle of January for all the charging infrastructure on the Vineyard that we would need for the VTA to be successful in this project,” Grant said.
The authority operates 32 buses across 14 routes on Martha’s Vineyard. Grant said about 4 buses in the fleet are replaced every year.
“The VTA board met a couple of months ago and five out of the six members endorsed us going forward to transition the fleet, assuming I can get the funding lined up, to electric,” Grant said.
The electric buses that the VTA is considering acquiring are manufactured by the California-based company BYD.
Authority officials visited several transportation systems in California which utilize the vehciles.
Grant says a successful demonstration was held on the Vineyard in August.
“The bus is quiet. It has a larger capacity because it doesn’t have an engine in back,” she said. “We ran it for four or five hours and the battery only went down 20 percent. So in our operating environment the opportunity for regeneration works pretty well.”
Plans call for buses to recharge at the VTA garage overnight, but some bus routes are too long for buses to go the whole day without charging.
“We need to offer some in route charging in order to do a full fleet conversion over the next five to 10 years as buses mature and outlive their useful life,” Grant said.
One solution would be to place charging pads along routes which would help charge buses during stops.