The Roaring Fork Transit Authority unveiled its new electric buses in a ceremony at Rubey Park on Tuesday. Over the course of the next month, eight new electric buses will join RFTA’s fleet of about 90 total buses.
“They're quiet, they're clean, they're the new future,” said George Newman, a current member and former chairman of the RFTA board of directors.
RFTA aims to convert 30% of its total fleet to electric buses over the next 20 years. The buses being introduced this month are part of a pilot program that will likely pave the way for more.
Those eight buses and the infrastructure needed to support them cost a total of $9.2 million. Just under half of that funding comes from state and federal grants, while the remainder comes from RTFA, the City of Aspen and the Elected Officials Transportation Committee.
“The other funding sources and the grants that we got actually brought the cost down to about the same cost as a diesel bus,” said John Krueger, director of transportation for the City of Aspen.
Standing amidst the ceremony crowd at Rubey Park, Krueger extolled the environmental and noise reduction benefits of the new buses.
“Zero emissions out of the tailpipe,” Krueger said. “They don't even have a tailpipe. They're very quiet. Less than 39 decibels when you're idling, which is probably less than the ambient noise going on right around here.”
Newman, who also serves on the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners, joined the chorus of voices celebrating the environmental advantages of electric vehicles.
“This is a huge shift in beginning to change in terms of how we look at dealing with our carbon footprint and how we start to address climate change,” Newman said.
Four of the new buses went into service on Tuesday, servicing Castle Maroon and Hunter Creek routes. The pilot program’s remaining four buses will start running in the next few weeks. Electric buses will also run to Burlingame and on the Highlands to Brush Creek route starting in late December.