RIPTA completes construction on state’s first electric bus in-line charging station

July 5, 2024
The station is located on the agency’s most frequently used route, the R-Line, and can charge up to four electric buses simultaneously while they are in service.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority has completed construction on the state’s first electric bus in-line charging station.

The station, located along the R-Line – RIPTA’s most frequently used route connecting Providence, Cranston and Pawtucket, R.I., – can charge up to four electric buses simultaneously while they are in service. The charging station, the first of its kind in the Northeast region, also features driver restrooms and various site enhancements, including an on-site snow-melt system. It is located on the Providence/Cranston city line at the southern terminus of the R-Line. 

The charging station will power RIPTA’s first electric fleet, which includes 14 New Flyer of America Xcelsior XE40 battery-electric buses, all of which will exclusively serve the R-Line. RIPTA says that electrifying the R-Line route will lower emissions on a key corridor, where many low-income and diverse communities have been affected by air pollution and experience high asthma rates. The full electric fleet will be deployed throughout July. 

RIPTA Interim CEO Christopher Durand highlighted the station’s importance in advancing the state’s commitment to cleaner air quality and zero-emission, sustainable energy. He emphasized that projects like this contribute to Rhode Island’s leadership in the green economy and improve access to public transportation for residents who rely on RIPTA’s services. 

“At RIPTA, we are proud to lead by example when it comes to battling climate change. The completion of the electric bus in-line charging station marks a significant achievement for RIPTA and Rhode Island,” Durand said. “This innovative facility, located along our most frequently used route, represents our commitment to cleaner, sustainable transportation. The introduction of our first fully electric fleet will not only reduce emissions but also enhance the quality of air and life in the communities we serve.” 

The $7.6 million design-build project was led by BOND Civil & Utility Construction, Inc. of Medford, Mass. The company worked closely with Rhode Island Energy to ensure that electrical power and a high-pressure gas line was available for this project. BOND also worked closely with GM2 and Fuss & O’Neill during the design phase of the project. 

The project was funded by Volkswagen Settlement Funds and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

“To take part in another energy diversification project in Rhode Island is an honor,” said Kane Cuddy, president of BOND Civil & Utility. “Working with RIPTA and Rhode Island Energy to empower one of the region’s first fully electric bus fleets is a major milestone not just for BOND, but for our public transportation infrastructure as a whole. We look forward to collaborating on upcoming prospects in the Ocean State to continue building networks of the future.” 

About RIPTA’s zero-emissions fleet transition 

In May 2018, the state of Rhode Island announced that approximately $14.4 million of the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds would be used to take important steps toward improving air quality in Rhode Island – including the acquisition of electric buses for the RIPTA. In 2019, RIPTA launched a pilot program with three leased all-electric buses, which provided the agency an opportunity to learn about the new technology, train staff and test the performance of the electric buses on a variety of RIPTA routes. 

After considerable analysis of vehicle performance, range, and energy consumption data collected in the initial demonstration buses, RIPTA made the first major step toward transitioning away from diesel-based propulsion and toward a greener, more sustainable bus fleet with the purchase of the 14 New Flyer Xcelsior XE40 battery-electric buses.    

“Rhode Island is leading the charge on clean, renewable energy projects and this new charging station is another example of how we’re all in on creating a sustainable future,” said Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee. “Building up our green economy is critical. This charging dock can reduce emissions, promote cleaner air and make public transportation easier for the tens of thousands of riders who rely on it.”      

“We applaud RIPTA’s efforts to advance its electric bus program with this innovative charging station, which smooths the way for efficient fueling and maintenance and has the added value of providing amenities for bus drivers,” said Peter Butler, regional administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, which recently provided $5 million to RIPTA to buy hybrid electric buses. “We’re proud to provide federal support to help RIPTA deliver a cleaner and more modern mode of transportation designed to reach everyone throughout Rhode Island.”