Greensboro has had electric buses running routes since Jan. 31, however like a soft opening for a new business, Thursday, Feb. 21 was the official grand opening of the electric bus program and Gov. Roy Cooper came to help celebrate.
The event was held at the Koury Aviation Flight Hanger on Airline Road at 11:30. It needed to be somewhere big enough to get two new electric city buses inside and that kind of limits the possibilities.
It has been no secret that Greensboro is the first city in North Carolina to use electric buses in its transit system, but with 10 electric buses on the road now and 16 by the end of the year Greensboro will have the second largest electric bus fleet on the East Coast behind only Philadelphia, but Ryan Popple the President of Proterra that manufactured the electric buses said that Greensboro as it completes the transition to electric buses could overtake Philly.
And it is Greensboro’s plan to convert completely to electric buses as the current diesel bus fleet is retired. Buses generally have a useful life of 12 years and over the lifetime of the electric buses it’s estimated Greensboro will save over $350,000 per bus on fuel and maintenance costs.
Popple was also highly complimentary of Greensboro for not doing what many cities are choosing to do and trying out one electric bus to see how it works. He said when you consider the cost of charging stations and an entirely different type of maintenance it makes far more economic sense to do what Greensboro has done. He also complimented Duke Energy on being a good partner in the process.
Cooper was introduced by Chairman of the North Carolina Board of Transportation Mike Fox who happens to be from Greensboro, and he said, “This is a big deal and a big day not just for Greensboro but for North Carolina.”
Cooper said that it was appropriate for the Gate City to be leading the state with this new transportation technology and electric buses fit in with his vision for the state to use cleaner and more efficient sources of energy.
The speakers included, Greensboro Department of Transportation Director Adam Fischer, Mayor Nancy Vaughan, and Congressman Mark Walker.
When Vaughan was speaking she said to Cooper, “I know you do a lot of job cuttings.”
Cooper who was seated behind her couldn’t let that slip pass and said, “I don’t do job cuttings.”
It was a line that got a big laugh and after a fist bump from the governor, Vaughan corrected herself and said, “Ribbon cuttings for job announcements.”
And in fact Cooper left the airport to make the announcement that 300 new jobs were being brought to High Point by Aetna.