June 24th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
After Volkswagen Group was caught cheating diesel emissions regulations, it got hit with some serious penalties in the United States. Those included spending a ton of money across the country to help clean up the air. One project was the nationwide Electrify America charging network. There have also been some commercials to raise awareness and bust myths about electric vehicles. And there have been commercial electric vehicle deployments.
This month, three new electric shuttles funded by Electrify America’s +$40 million “Green Cities” program were deployed in Sacramento, California. The vehicles are EV Star shuttles from GreenPower Motor Company.
“The vehicles are being integrated into SacRT’s highly popular SmaRT Ride on-demand micro-shuttle program servicing the Franklin-South Sacramento communities.”
SmaRT Ride provides point to point transportation, solving one of the biggest problems with public transit from the user end — that it’s not convenient enough for many users’ preferences.
Before Covid-19 hit, in February 2020, SmaRT Ride was transporting 230 passengers per day. However, it was using compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles — which are cleaner than diesel vehicles, but sure aren’t clean. The electric upgrades should not only lead to cleaner air, but also lead to smoother, quieter, more enjoyable trips for both passengers and drivers. Focusing on air quality and climate change, people often forget about these major benefits of electric vehicles.
“The GreenPower EV Star shuttles were assembled in Porterville, California and retrofitted with a unique side door configuration added to facilitate shuttle access for those with special needs. Electrify America fully subsidized the costs of the shuttles, the DC fast-charging infrastructure to support them, and the retrofit costs.”
Yes, it’s just 3 shuttle vans, but 3 shuttle vans do a lot more driving than 3 typical cars. More importantly, if the service continues to be successful and gets enough attention, it might inspire a lot more economical ride on-demand micro-shuttle programs using highly efficient, low-cost-of-ownership electric vans or buses.
“The success of SacRT’s micro-shuttle service in the Franklin-South Sacramento area presented us with a prime opportunity to significantly decrease carbon emissions by introducing EV shuttles into the fleet,” Steinberg said. “Expanding service to another under-resourced transit community now also gives Oak Park residents the ability to make connections to major destinations and other transit routes outside their neighborhood.”
“With three new EV shuttles to be incorporated into our fleet, we will have increased capacity to provide new service options to Oak Park residents.” said SacRT General Manager Henry Li. “The on-demand EV shuttle and our new Causeway Connection all-electric bus service linking Sacramento and Davis, are both part of our ongoing effort to modernize and electrify mobility options for Sacramentans.”
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