Pierce Transit adds six electric buses into service

Dec. 2, 2021
The GILLIG-made battery electric buses are part of Pierce Transit's effort to convert 20 percent of its fleet to electric by 2030.

Pierce Transit continues its pursuit toward improved sustainability with the addition of six 40-foot GILLIG electric buses, which went into service this week. The agency explains the new vehicles are similar in appearance, operation and componentry to its existing compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, also made by GILLIG, and these parallels will help save Pierce Transit maintenance and training costs with the new electric buses.

The propulsion system for these electric buses is manufactured by Cummins and features battery packs and an electric traction motor versus the standard engine and transmission. The buses can travel between 150 and 170 miles on a single charge (actual figures can vary based on driving conditions).

“These buses are a continuation of our desire to become carbon neutral as soon as possible. One of our goals as a transit agency is to help combat climate change and we are exploring all initiatives to achieve that goal. A side benefit is to help diversify our fleet in the unlikely event of supply line failures,” said Pierce Transit CEO Mike Griffus.

The agency’s fleet is 80 percent CNG, 13 percent hybrid-electric, five percent battery electric and two percent diesel. Earlier this month, Pierce Transit signed an agreement that will bring Responsibly Sourced Gas to its fleet; a move the agency estimates will equal a reduction of more than 101,000 pounds of coal burned.

Pierce Transit’s goal is to convert 20 percent of its bus fleet to electric by 2030. In 2016, Pierce Transit received a $2.55 million “Low or No Emission Program” federal grant to purchase three battery-electric buses and related charging infrastructure. Those electric buses, the first in South Sound, went into service in 2018. This year, six new battery-electric buses were purchased, three with Washington State Department of Ecology Air Pollution Control Account funds and three with federal Volkswagen settlement funds.

The agency believes sustainability practices must make good business, public, and environmental sense by balancing the community's economic, social and environmental needs. Adding new GILLIG electric buses to the fleet supports these sustainability efforts.

“These additional six battery electric buses will provide Pierce County with reliable and environmentally friendly transit,” said Bill Fay, GILLIG vice president of sales. “We’re looking forward to building on our partnership with Pierce Transit which began in 2010 and helping the agency achieve its goals of transitioning more of its fleet to electric. These new zero-emission buses will deliver industry-leading performance and durability.”

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