Mountain Rides Transportation Authority has hired Hailey-based POWER Engineers for the design and installation of new e-bus charging stations, POWER Engineers shared in a Monday press release.
Mountain Rides’ long-term plan is to convert its entire fleet of 20 diesel buses to electric power by 2027. Four electric buses are due to arrive next spring and will be in service by July of 2021, according to Executive Director Wally Morgus.
“Against the backdrop of global climate change, as well as the commitment in our pristine alpine valley to sustainability, resilience, and environmental preservation, Mountain Rides is fully committed to instituting a 100 percent zero-emissions vehicle fleet,” Morgus stated in the press release. “Once accomplished, replacing our diesel buses with a fleet of battery electric buses stands to eliminate upwards of 1,100 tons of CO2 emissions annually from the skies over the Wood River Valley, a meaningful impact that Mountain Rides is proud to deliver.”
Priced around $760,000 each, the incoming battery-electric buses from New Flyer of America are about 35 feet long with a seating capacity of 35 passengers. The first phase of the bus electrification project will entail the acquisition and installation of 480 volt, dual-port charging stations and accompanying transformers in Mountain Rides’ Ketchum and Bellevue depots, according to POWER Engineers.
“We are excited to be working alongside MRTA to bring electric buses to the area. We also live and work in the valley, so it’s a win-win for us,” POWER Project Manager Jason Marenda stated.
Eventually, Mountain Rides plans to house ten buses and seven chargers in Bellevue and eight buses and six chargers in Ketchum. In June, the organization was awarded a $2.45 million Low-No Emissions grant from the Federal Transit Administration to help fund its transition to electric buses, which will also be purchased using about $5 million of past Low-No Emissions grants. An additional $1.75 million in settlement money from Volkswagen’s 2015 emission scandal will go toward the e-bus purchases, Morgus said.