City of Asheville to purchase zero-emission, electric transit buses

Asheville City Council took another step towards achieving its goal to reduce the City’s carbon footprint Jan. 9 when it voted to buy five electric buses for the City’s transit system, Asheville Redefines Transit (ART). When delivered 12 months from now, the buses will offer Asheville residents and visitors a modern, zero-emission, ecologically-friendly bus ride.


The purchase was primarily made possible through Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant funding. In September 2017, the City’s Transportation Department won a highly-competitive grant to purchase zero-emission buses through the FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program. The City of Asheville was selected as the only award recipient in North Carolina and was granted $633,333. This grant, combined with others intended for transit capital purchases, will allow the City to purchase five zero-emission, battery-electric buses that will be sourced from Greenville, S.C.-based Proterra, a leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission electric buses.


“The City currently operates a peak fleet of 17 transit buses and maintains a total of 23 buses. In order to maintain a healthy transit fleet, a regular purchase of new buses is required as old vehicles meet the end of their useful life,” said Vaidila Satvika, Interim Transportation Planning Manager. “Although the upfront cost of electric buses is higher, life-cycle cost are projected to be lower because fuel and maintenance of electric buses is less expensive and thereby contributes to a greater overall savings. In addition, zero-emission buses provide social benefits that are more difficult to quantify.”


When the five buses are put in service around February 2019, they will replace retiring diesel buses that consume approximately 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually, decreasing carbon emissions by 54 tons per year for each bus that transitions from diesel to electric power. Other benefits?

  • Electricity has smaller price fluctuations so it reduces the City’s exposure to spikes in fuel costs.
  • Each zero emission bus removes at least 1,000 pounds of noxious harmful emissions from our streets.
  • Electric buses are also not as noisy, contributing to a better quality of life for anyone living near a bus stop.


In addition to the environmental benefits, the new electric buses may  have a positive impact on ART’s bottom line, since they require less energy to operate and maintain.


This action aligns with the City Council’s 2036 Vision for Transportation and Accessibility by providing infrastructure to ensure that public transportation is widespread, frequent, and reliable, and for a Clean and Healthy Environment that continues to be a leader in conservation efforts in response to global climate change, and that is powered by locally-generated, clean sources of energy, with air quality problems that have disappeared.