Chatham Area Transit, Vail Transit set to welcome first electric buses

April 13, 2021
Both systems have selected GILLIG buses as they explore greener ways to deliver service.

Transit systems in Vail, Colo., and Savannah, Ga., are readying their networks for new battery-electric buses to take the streets.

GILLIG will provide a total of 10 battery electric buses, four to Vail Transit and six to Chatham Area Transit (CAT).

CAT took delivery of it first electric bus with the rest expected to arrive throughout 2021 and into 2022. Before the bus enters service in late July, CAT explains it will conduct a series of tests and train employees throughout the summer.

The Center for Transportation and the Environment evaluated the benefits electric buses could bring to CAT in 2017 and determined the transit system could see a reduction in emissions, energy consumption and lifetime vehicle costs by transitioning to electric vehicles.

Vail Transit in Colorado has also been planning for its electric bus transition since 2017 and on April 6, it hosted the Vail Town Council for a preview and test ride one of the four new vehicles.

The town has set a goal to transition its 33 buses to clean energy by 2032 and its first two electric buses entered service April 7 on an in-town route while mechanics evaluate the vehicles’ performance and maintenance requirements.

Vail is exploring the development of an EV readiness plan and commitment to become a Go EV City. The addition of the electric buses supports the Eagle County Climate Action Plan, which also includes a call encouraging smart commuting using traditional transit or active transit modes.

“This is a significant step forward in meeting our climate action goals for the future,” said Vail Mayor Dave Chapin. “The transportation sector is the second highest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Vail and the top contributor in Eagle County. Transitioning to electric vehicles will greatly reduce emissions and is one of the most effective ways to achieve a 50-percent reduction in emissions by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.”

Funding for the buses was offset by a Federal Transit Administration grant and a second grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation funded infrastructure upgrades at the bus barn to support the electric fleet.

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.