Roaring Fork Transportation Authority launches zero-emission buses

Dec. 6, 2019
The partial transition of RFTA’s fleet to zero-emission buses is in partnership with the city of Aspen and funded through state and federal sources.

Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) placed its first zero-emission buses into service on Dec. 3. The eight buses are currently running on city of Aspen Routes; Hunter Creek and Castle Maroon. 

“They're quiet, they're clean, they're the new future. This is a huge shift in beginning to change in terms of how we look at dealing with our carbon footprint and how we start to address climate change,” said Pitkin County Commissioner George Newman.  

The buses are part of the RFTA and the city of Aspen’s Battery Electric Bus Pilot program, which RFTA will lay the foundation for additional zero-emission buses. RFTA’s goal is to convert 30 percent of its total fleet to electric buses during the next 20 years. The electrification of a portion of RFTA’s fleet is a goal of the RFTA Board of Directors and a publicly supported initiative from RFTA Destination 2040, which is a long-term plan to enhance safety, sustainability and mobility in the region.

Funding for the $9.2-million project came from the federal, state and local sources. The Federal Transit Administration and Colorado Department of Transportation provided $4.2 million, the Elected Officials Transportation Committee provided $500,000 with RFTA and the city of Aspen funding the balance.

The project included eight 40-foot Xcelsior CHARGE battery-electric buses from New Flyer of America with a capacity for up to 47 passengers and four ABB 150 kWh depot chargers from New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions™. The buses will use in-depot charging stations located at the Aspen Maintenance Facility. RFTA and Holy Cross Electric worked to install sufficient bus charging infrastructure, establish a cheaper utility rate for strategic time-of-day charging and assess renewable energy offset options.

“New Flyer commends RFTA on its push toward environmental sustainability, building on its zero-emission journey with Xcelsior CHARGE battery-electric buses,” said Chris Stoddart, president, New Flyer. “With over 50 years of experience manufacturing zero-emission buses, New Flyer is proud to lead zero-emission mobility with the latest buses, technology and infrastructure that together, help build sustainable public transit across America. Congratulations to the community of Aspen!” 

RFTA partnered with the city of Aspen, Colo., on the project and to secure funding and community support. The partnership was awarded the 2019 Colorado Association of Transit Agencies Transit Team of the Year Award in recognition of its efforts.  

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.