Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC)

CA: VISTA and Roadrunner Test County’s First All-Electric Bus

The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) has ushered in a new era for local transit.  In a demonstration sponsored by Camarillo-based Roadrunner Shuttle, Ventura County’s first all-electric bus operated without a hitch. The two-hour demonstration began at 9 a.m., Dec. 2 along the VISTA Cal State University Channel Islands-Camarillo route, earning rave reviews in the process.

“We are thrilled with the performance of the all-electric bus as well as the response from the community,” noted VCTC Executive Director Darren Kettle. “This new vehicle addresses numerous goals imperative to VCTC including the adoption of alternative fuels and keeping Ventura County moving. We are very excited to move into the next phase of testing and eventually getting the bus – and other vehicles like it – on the road full-time.”

The retrofitted Gillig bus features an all-electric zero-emissions propulsion system (ZEPS) that is both quiet and clean. It made two trips along VISTA’s 25-minute-round-trip CSUCI-Camarillo route, carrying approximately 80 passengers in the process.

The bus will be field tested again over a two-week span in January and will be modified to improve hillside braking and overall top speed.

In comparison with the current VISTA vehicles, the ZEPS bus is projected to save more than $266,000 in operations costs over an eight-year period and is slated for full-time incorporation by July 1, noted Roadrunner General Manager Charles Sandlin. “The students loved it and said they had a great time. The bus was very quiet, and everything worked out well,” Sandlin said. “With the addition of solar panels at the transit center in Camarillo, we should have a full 100-percent renewable-energy bus, and that’s really what we are looking for. It could charge during off-peak hours at 10 cents per kilowatt.”

The demonstration at CSUCI represented the first stop on a California tour for the Complete Coach Works (CCW)-manufactured bus. From Ventura County, the vehicle will visit Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, Stanford University, UC Davis, and Tri Delta Transit.

The ZEPS bus fully charges in five hours and can run all day on the CSUCI route. With a price tag of approximately $500,000, Sandlin added that it’s in the “sweet spot” of both cost and efficiency compared to other vehicles. “It’s the perfect one,” he said.