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Owensboro, Ky., Unveils City’s First All-Electric Bus

The new Owensboro electric bus is adorned with a colorful green-and-blue wrap that features images of city employees, with the city crest emblazoned at the rear of the bus, and it’s scheduled to start routes on May 23.

Electric bus
(TNS) — Owensboro's first electric bus was unveiled Thursday afternoon in front of the Owensboro Convention Center.

The bus is adorned with a colorful green-and-blue wrap that features images of city employees, with the city crest emblazoned at the rear of the bus.

The vehicle is scheduled to begin running routes May 23.

Mayor Tom Watson said during the unveiling that it's not common for communities in the western part of Kentucky to have an electric bus in their fleet.

"We are, as I understand, the only community west of Elizabethtown to have an electric bus," he said, "and we are excited about that."

After some brief remarks, those assembled were invited to board the bus for a quick spin around downtown Owensboro. The groan of a diesel engine was noticeably absent as the bus quietly accelerated.

Stephen Franklin, the city's director of public works, said at 35-feet in length and with a maximum capacity of 62 people, the bus is the largest in the city's fleet.

Delivered last month by Gillig LLC, the city received a $927,000 low-no emissions grant from the Federal Transit Administration and a $156,403 state grant to cover the city's match for the federal funds.

Franklin said no city funds were used to pay for the bus.

"It was a good opportunity, and we are extremely thankful for Mayor Tom Watson, he truly made this happen," Franklin said. "And with his assistance and with assistance from FTA and the state, we were able to get this bus through competitive grants, which we are extremely excited about."

Franklin said that while the city does not have any plans to add more electric buses, it provides an opportunity to evaluate how the bus performs and also the cost savings compared to a traditional diesel-powered bus."

The bus is expected to handle the same eight bus routes that the city's diesel-powered buses run.

"All of our buses rotate all eight fixed routes, and we will implement this bus and put it into rotation to serve all eight fixed routes," Franklin said. "Right now, our goal is to get it on the road May 23 and put it in rotation at that point."

The bus is expected to have a range of between 150 and 200 miles per charge, depending on terrain and driver operation, Franklin said.

The new technology also means some additional training for employees.

"It does not have a diesel engine anymore, so yes, there are certain specific job trainings for both the mechanic and the drivers," Franklin said.

© 2022 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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