Would Spokane benefit from purchasing greener buses? An all-electric, zero-emissions bus has temporarily joined the Spokane Transit fleet for the month to help answer that question.
STA started using some hybrid diesel-electric buses in 2007, and the fleet now includes 28 of them. They produce 17 percent less emissions than non-hybrid buses, according to the STA. That’s a step in the right direction, environmentally, but a zero-emissions bus would obviously be a bigger improvement.
The bus being evaluated is manufactured by BYD, a company based in Shenzhen, China, and it’s described as the first of its kind worldwide because of its fire-safe battery chemistry, which allows the bus to run for up to 24 hours on a single charge. BYD’s electric buses are in use or under consideration in multiple Chinese cities as well as California, the Netherlands, Poland and Canada.
However, BYD has also been in the news recently for less positive reasons, including questions about quality, bus testing delays, jobs that never materialized and an investigation into wage violations after it opened an outpost in Los Angeles during a push into overseas markets.
Spokane Transit Authority is planning to purchase new buses for 2018-19, so it will likely be a while before any decision is made. Try the bus out through March 28 with the route schedule here.