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Gov. Jay Inslee visits Pierce Transit, discusses possibilities around electrifying public transportation fleets

Washington Governor Jay Inslee visited Pierce Transit in Lakewood, Washington today to talk with agency leaders about electric vehicle technology and how Pierce Transit is pursuing electrification in its bus and vanpool fleets. Joining the Governor were Pierce Transit Board Vice Chair Marty Campbell, Pierce Transit CEO Sue Dreier, agency leaders and staff from the Governor’s office and Pierce Transit.

“Pierce Transit has long been a leader on environmental stewardship in public transportation, and these efforts continue their innovative work,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This is just another example of how Washington is leading the way to a clean transportation system.”

Pierce Transit already has one of the cleanest bus fleets in the nation, with about 80 percent of its buses running on clean, compressed natural gas and another 15 percent being hybrid-electrics. Just eight percent of the agency’s bus fleet runs on diesel.

In 2016, Pierce Transit received a $2.55 million “Low or No Emission Program” federal grant to purchase three battery-electric buses and related charging infrastructure. Those electric buses, the first in South Sound, went into service in 2018. Last year the agency ordered three more battery-electric buses, scheduled to be in service in 2021, funded with Washington State Department of Ecology Air Pollution Control Account funds and a local match. This year Pierce Transit will order three more, using a combination of agency funds and Department of Ecology funding that originated with the federal Volkswagen settlement. Pierce Transit has a goal of converting 30 percent of its bus fleet to electric. 

In 2019, Pierce Transit acquired eight hybrid electric vanpool vans, funded primarily with a grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Vanpool Investment Program. Pierce Transit partnered with Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) in a pilot project to provide the vans to TPU vanpool groups. TPU installed the charging infrastructure on site, so the vans could charge during the day while the vanpoolers are at work. The plug-in hybrid electric Chrysler Pacifica vans are powered by 97 percent carbon-free electricity and run 32 miles on battery power before needing to be recharged or tap into gasoline. It is estimated the eight electric vans are eliminating 56 tonnes of CO₂ emissions a year, equivalent to 6,000 gallons of gasoline. Pierce Transit hopes to expand the hybrid-electric vanpool van program by acquiring more electric vans and offering them to other employers who are willing to install charging stations at their worksites.

“Pierce Transit is an innovative agency that has been leading the way with clean transportation technology for the past four decades,” said Pierce Transit Board Vice Chair Marty Campbell. “It was great having Governor Inslee here today to discuss how the transit industry is moving forward with battery-fueled technology and how the State of Washington can support us in those goals.”

While at Pierce Transit, Governor Inslee received an in-depth briefing about electric buses, including the challenges and opportunities associated with electric buses. He also had the opportunity to ride one of the electric buses and hear about the agency’s plans to update its Lakewood base facilities to accommodate future electric vehicles and related infrastructure.

About Pierce Transit

Pierce County Public Transportation Benefit Area Corporation (Pierce Transit) is a nationally-recognized leader in the public transportation industry. The agency’s services extend over 292 square miles of Pierce County with service to about 70 percent of the county’s population. Pierce Transit provides three types of service:  regular bus service, SHUTTLE paratransit service and vanpools. In 2019, the agency provided 9.3 million rides for people around Pierce County.

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Landmarks

Government Sites: Pierce County Health Dept, Pierce Co Sheriffs Office, Tacoma City Hall

Major Commercial Sites: Tacoma Mall, Sheraton Hotel

Transportation Facilities: Sea-Tac Airport, Greyhound Bus Depot

Schools & Colleges: Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College

Sports & Leisure: Cheney Stadium, Pt Defiance Zoo

Medical Facilities: Group Health, Tacoma General Hospital


 

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