Local to plug electric buses | AspenTimes.com

Local to plug electric buses

Longtime Aspenite Raymond Auger is meeting with the city’s Clean Air Advisory Board today to seek support for his plan to convert in-town buses to run on batteries instead of diesel fuel.

Auger, who has been studying electric buses, will be joined by Dan Blankenship, director of the Roaring Fork Transit Agency. Blankenship said Wednesday he is not opposed to Auger’s idea, but thinks it cannot be done anytime soon in Aspen.

According to Auger, a number of cities are using buses powered by batteries, including Charlotte, N.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Miami Beach, Fla. He admitted that the electric buses have “limitations,” such as how far they go before they need to be recharged, but argued that the cities have “found ways to overcome this limitation, and are expanding their fleet sizes.”

Blankenship, who conceded that battery-operated buses might ultimately make sense for Aspen (particularly for in-town routes), said he does not think the buses make sense for the city now, given the limitations of the existing technology in electric buses.

For one thing, he said, the range of electric buses is only about 118 miles before they need recharging, and Aspen’s shortest in-town bus route is the Hunter Creek line, on which a bus runs an average of 147 miles over the course of a day.

He also said that RFTA doesn’t have the money right now to convert its in-town fleet to electric buses, and is concentrating on converting to “clean diesel” or natural gas for now.

“I think Mr. Auger is well intentioned,” Blankenship said, “but it’s not something that you want to leap into.”

The meeting will start at noon in the Sister Cities Room at City Hall, and the public is invited.

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