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Las Vegas Transit Organization Adds Electric Buses

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and other local officials unveiled four all-new electric battery-powered buses that were recently added to the public transit fleet.

Las Vegas
(TNS) — Your next bus ride might be a much quieter, smoother experience compared with previous trips.

That's because on Wednesday, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and other local officials unveiled four all-new electric battery-powered buses that were recently added to the public transit fleet. The zero-emission buses were obtained via grant funding made available from several federal spending bills and will help the RTC in its goal in becoming carbon neutral by 2050, RTC CEO M.J. Maynard said.

"I understand that these four buses may seem like a small step, but you've got to start somewhere," Maynard said. "It's a giant leap forward that will allow us to continue to evolve our fleet and expand our use of clean technologies that are really healthy for our community and for the environment for our home here in Southern Nevada."

Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones, who also serves as the RTC chairman, said the new buses would "significantly" decrease the area's carbon footprint while improving air quality and also provide a smoother, quieter, vibration-free ride.

"We strive to embrace sustainability," Jones said at a news conference Wednesday at the Nevada Conservation League office near Eastern Avenue and Wigwam Parkway, where the buses were unveiled.

"Whether it's working to improve air quality by minimizing traffic congestion, or providing more active transportation solutions like the RTC bike share program, we work to develop and deploy innovative climate-friendly public transit solutions that advance an efficient mobility system, more economic growth, and protect the environment," Jones continued.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., whose district encompasses the RTC headquarters in downtown Las Vegas, said at the event that funding for the buses was piecemealed from several spending bills, including the 2015 FAST Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed last year by President Joe Biden.

Getting more gas-powered vehicles off the road will especially stand to benefit Titus' dense urban district and will create better health outcomes for constituents, she said.

"It will help move people to work, to play, to school — all while helping with the air quality," Titus said. "We're helping people's health care. We're saving money, and I'm looking forward to riding one."

That whole-of-government approach also included action from the state and county levels. At the county level, Jones credited the "All-In Clark County" initiative adopted earlier this year to slash greenhouse gas emissions and prepare the region for the effects of climate change.

At the state level, Senate Bill 448 from the 2021 legislative session, which made investments to accelerate transmission, development and storage of renewable energy, also paved access to resources that made Wednesday's announcement possible, said Marie Steele, vice president of integrated energy services at NV Energy. The bill essentially injected $100 million into programs to accelerate transportation electrification, of which 40% was to benefit historically underserved communities, she said.

In August, RTC unveiled a pair of buses powered by a hydrogen fuel cell — the first of 16 the agency plans to purchase by 2025.

Jones told the Sun on Wednesday that because Las Vegas can see temperatures anywhere from 120 degrees to the low 40s, having buses fueled by different types of renewables will help the county weigh which options are best in the valley as gas- and diesel-powered buses get phased out.

We want to make sure we don't put all of our eggs in one basket," Jones said. "And so this way, with both the hydrogen fuel cell technology and the battery-electric technology, we'll test them out on our roadways. And as we make those decisions in the next few years, we can make sure that we have the right mix in our fleet."

Kristee Watson, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, said in addition to the environmental perks of the new buses, electric vehicles have fewer parts and are cheaper to maintain, meaning environmentalists and fiscal hawks alike should approve of the move.

And the health benefits almost speak for themselves, she added.

"These don't emit any greenhouse gas emissions," Watson said. "All of us stand to benefit from these significant health benefits, and the riders are, I think, going to say, 'This is a bus I want to be on.' "

© 2023 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.