HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The PVTA is going green! You’ll barely hear it coming, but you’ll enjoy the silence onboard the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority’s newest ride. The PVTA has added three electric buses to its fleet. Each bus cost $749,000 of your federal and state tax money, but PVTA Administrator Mary MacInnes said it’s worth it. She said, “There’s a number of different ways where it’s much cheaper to operate an electric bus, and then you have the environmental impact. No fuels being burned.” MacInnes added, “”It’s a much, much quieter ride.”
The buses don’t need fuel or oil changes. PVTA predicts each electric bus will save $448,000 that would have been spent on operational costs for diesel buses. That would be the equivalent of $213,000 in fuel savings compared to compressed natural gas and $237,000 in maintenance savings that would have been spent on diesel-hybrid buses.
One benefit of an electric bus is it doesn’t require diesel fuel. Instead, it needs to be charged. A PVTA bus driver said just a 5 minute charge can take the bus 30 to 35 miles. The battery charger automatically hooks up to the bus as it pulls into the Holyoke Bus Terminal. There will be another charging station when Union Station opens in Springfield. For now, the electric buses will run from Holyoke to Springfield.
“I like buses because they’re clean for the environment, and all my life I take the bus. I take the bus to work when I used to travel all over the country, I take the bus downtown and then I go all over,” said Ralph Neabar, a frequent PVTA bus rider.
If these buses are a success, the PVTA will try to secure funding for a fourth one that would operate out of UMass Amherst.
The PVTA is the largest regional transit authority in Massachusetts. Its fleet includes 186 buses as well as 132 vans. The buses connect people in 24 communities in western Massachusetts.