CA: Vacaville City Coach to add 10 electric buses to fleet

April 18, 2024
The addition of the electric buses represents a significant milestone in the city's efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Apr. 16—Vacaville City Coach will be the first transit agency in Solano County to add electric buses to its fleet after the City of Vacaville was able to allocate grant funding to help introduce 10 new 35-foot low-floor battery electric XE35 buses.

"The introduction of these electric buses represents a significant milestone in the city's efforts to reduce carbon emissions and provide cleaner, more efficient transportation options for residents," said city officials in a release.

Vacaville City Coach Transit Coordinator Lori DaMassa said the City owned and maintained a total of 18 fixed route New Flyer of America Compressed Natural Gas buses — 10 model year 2009, five model year 2010, and three model year 2012 — but some of these models had entered into the end of their lifecycle as prescribed by the Federal Transit Administration and were eligible for replacement in 2021.

"Having the right vehicle for the job is critical for a well-rounded transit system," said DaMassa. "Staff conducted research to ensure the best option was selected to meet the innovative clean transit regulation. Early in the research, we found that the transit industry was primarily moving towards electric due to the significantly higher cost of a hydrogen powered transit bus."

DaMassa said transit officials took the data they began compiling in 2021 and, with historical data, determined that a rebalancing between their larger fixed route buses and the smaller micro-transit vans, which are used for the City Coach Direct program, was necessary to meet the needs of the Vacaville community.

According to DaMassa, transit officials reduced the fleet of larger fixed route buses from 18 to 10 at that time, while purchasing their first six smaller micro-transit vans.

Deputy Director of Public Works Brian McLean said his department has been researching viable alternatives to the city's current natural gas buses for several years after discussing the issue with the city council, which said it was something the city needed to work on as soon as possible with the passage of the Innovative Clean Transi regulation, which was adopted by the California Air Resources Board in December of 2018 and became effective Oct. 1, 2019.

"It mandates that all public transit agencies transition to zero-emission fuels, and that by January of 2029, 100 percent of all new bus purchases must be zero-emission," said McLean. Zero-emission is defined as either electric or hydrogen fuel technologies, according to CARB, and the ICT regulation applies to all transit agencies that own, operate, or lease buses with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 14,000 pounds, said McLean.

While researching options, McLean said he found that the newly introduced New Flyer of America XE35 Battery Electric bus had a less complex, easier to maintain propulsion system, highest fuel economy and lower operating cost compared to combustion engine buses.

According to McLean, the total project cost for procurement of these 10 new buses is $10,857,883 with state sales tax included.

The second funding source is Transportation Development Act funding for electric fixed route bus projects for fiscal year 2022- 2023 in the amount of approximately $3,561,884, which were approved by the Vacaville City Council in spring 2022. All accumulated funding was through grants, said McLead, and there was no impact to the General Fund as a result of this procurement.


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