Congressman David Trone Tours Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s Gaithersburg Bus Depot and Electric Buses
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and the County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) today hosted a tour for Congressman David Trone of the Gaithersburg Bus Depot, the cutting-edge facility that supports about 40 percent of the County’s transit operation. MCDOT currently operates four zero-emission buses. MCDOT has an additional 10 buses on order.
The four electric buses operate on Ride On Routes 18 and 25, generally serving Langley Park, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Details on current schedules and safety measures can be viewed in the MCDOT website.
In support of the County’s Climate Action Plan, the recently approved Fiscal Year 2022 County operating budget will accelerate MCDOT’s transition of its bus fleet from diesel to zero emission buses. It calls for 20 new electric Ride On buses, which in addition to the buses currently on order, will bring the total electric fleet to 34 buses. The existing and forthcoming electric bus fleet is a result of grants from the Federal Transit Administration. Today’s event was in response to the County’s recent applications to its Federal representatives to secure additional funding to purchase vehicles with a reduced carbon footprint.
“Our future depends on our commitment to tackling climate change,” said Congressman Trone, who represents Maryland’s 6th District. “I’m proud to see Montgomery County is on track to meet its goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. The transition to electric buses is an excellent example of the power of local government working with the Federal government to bring Maryland one step closer to a cleaner, healthier environment. I hope other local communities can learn from Montgomery County’s model of direct action.”
Currently the electric bus fleet is based in the Silver Spring Depot, where a solar array and microgrid project are underway. In the coming years, and with potential Federal support, the County plans to expand the zero-emissions fleet to the Gaithersburg Depot, the County’s largest facility.
As part of the expansion, the County is planning for installation of a solar-generating array and microgrid to provide the electricity needed to charge battery electric buses and to produce hydrogen fuel for fuel cell-powered vehicles. Hydrogen fuel is generated by using electricity to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is then used to power the vehicle with longer vehicle ranges, short refueling times and carbon-free emissions since water is the byproduct from hydrogen fuel. It is contemplated that hydrogen fueling will replace the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a vehicle fuel at this facility.
“Montgomery County is leading the way in reducing greenhouse emissions by aiming to have an emissions free bus fleet by 2035.” said County Executive Elrich. “These investments support our Climate Action Plan and will provide our bus commuters a healthier ride and reduce engine and noise pollution throughout our communities. I appreciate Representative Trone’s visit to the Gaithersburg Bus Depot today, and his, along with all of our Congressional Delegation members, support for our aggressive goals to combat climate change.”
The initial four 35-foot electric buses, manufactured by Proterra, are approximately four to five times more efficient than diesel buses. The four buses combined will provide an estimated annual operating savings of nearly $150,000. The cost of each bus is approximately $793,500. A $1.75 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Competitive Program helped to fund purchase of the electric buses.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions states that the transportation sector is the largest direct source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, even surpassing the power sector in 2015. Cars and light-duty trucks (including SUVs) are responsible for about 59 percent of transportation emissions. Medium to larger vehicles, which include tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, buses and garbage trucks, produce about 23 percent of transportation emissions.
“It’s going to take all of us working together to make the changes we need to see to reach our climate goals,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We welcome the interest and thank Congressman Trone for taking time to learn about this important County initiative and hope that Federal support will accelerate our adoption of a zero-emissions transit fleet.”