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GoTriangle follows RDU Airport into electric bus biz

GoTriangle showed off one of its two new electric buses Tuesday during a ceremony in downtown Raleigh.

The buses were ordered after GoTriangle won a $943,000 federal low- or no-emission grant to help pay for them. Duke Energy provided $100,000 toward two charging stations as well.

Electric buses can cost between $300,000 to $450,000 more than a diesel bus when charging stations and other needed equipment are included, but the operating cost over the lifespan of an electric bus is $250,000 to $400,000 less than a diesel bus, according to GoTriangle.

The buses travel 21.4 mpg-equivalent at 19 cents a mile. By comparison, a diesel bus gets 3.86 mpg at 84 cents per mile.

“Duke Energy strongly supports the electrification of the transportation sector in North Carolina,” says Lang Reynolds, director of Electrification Strategy at Duke Energy. “We’re pleased transit agencies like GoTriangle are embracing that philosophy – working to reduce tailpipe emissions on our highways on a daily basis.”

GoTriangle expects to spend a few weeks training bus operators and mechanics on the electric buses before adding them to its fleet of 74 buses, which carry about 7,000 passengers a day on 13 regional routes and seven express routes

Eventually, GoTriangle plans to run the electric buses on every route.

“We’ve heard from our customers over the past few years that they really wanted GoTriangle to explore using alternative-energy buses, and we are thrilled to have our first two electric buses nearly ready to go,” says Shelley Blake Curran, GoTriangle’s interim CEO and president.

The ceremony took place at Raleigh Union Station, next to the property that will house GoTriangle’s Raleigh Union Station Bus Facility. The two facilities together will create a transit hub that allows people to board a train – such as Amtrak – and then ride a GoTriangle or GoRaleigh bus to get to their final destinations.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport is the only other Triangle entity that has electric buses, which produce no tailpipe emissions. GoRaleigh has five on the way.