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An all-electric Citibus travels along is parked in a parking lot at 11 a.m. on on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.

Among the new experiences incoming and current Texas Tech students will get on campus and in Lubbock, certain Citibus bus rides will receive updates.

Citibus in Lubbock deployed two electric-powered buses during a news conference at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 21 in the parking lot of the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center located at 1501 Mac Davis Lane.

Chris Mandrell, Citibus general manager, said the work to purchase these buses started in 2017.

“The Federal Transit Administration has a grant program called Lower or No Emission grant program,” he said. “We submitted a grant proposal to that.”

Through the grant proposal, Citibus was awarded funding, Mandrell said. Citibus is one of five transit agencies in Texas he said was awarded funds through this program.

The Texas Department of Transportation provided transportation development credits for the buses, Mandrell said. Regarding the need to lessen the carbon footprint of Citibus vehicles, he said utilizing the 100 percent battery electric buses, which were manufactured by Proterra Inc., is the direction FTA is going.

“The really neat thing about Proterra is the only bus they do manufacture is a battery-electric bus,” he said. “They’ve focused on one thing. We believe that they’ve done really well at manufacturing that bus.”

The two buses will be deployed on multiple routes, which consist of those on the Tech campus and around Lubbock, Mandrell said. When monitoring the electric buses, he said deployment on the Tech campus will be beneficial.

The addition of buses that solely run on electricity may prompt people to consider the environmental impact they have.

Dale Hill, founder of Proterra, said Lubbock is the third city in Texas to deploy battery-electric buses. He said he has many connections to Lubbock, as he travels through the city about four times a year.

Regarding a trip through Lubbock, Hill said he visited with Maurice Pearl, who was the Citibus general manager at the time, and talked about battery-electric buses. He said he told Pearl about the grant programs that would provide funding for electric buses.

“The significant thing about this deployment here in Lubbock is it’s a one-for-one replacement of diesel buses,” Hill said. “Many times, the larger cities, they’ll buy several buses, and they’ll run a pile-up program for a year or so.”

Proterra, which is the first manufacturer of battery-electric buses, is a company Hill said sold over 700 buses and have over 90 customers in 42 states and two Canadian provinces.

“We’ve got over 9 million accumulated fleet miles on those buses,” he said. “More importantly, we have eliminated 50 million tons of (carbon dioxide) emissions with those buses that are out there.”

Electric buses can travel about 150 miles on a single charge, which is about a day of service, Hill said.

“We’re here to talk about saving money,” Hill said.

For a diesel bus that has a 12-year design life, fuel costs can reach about $400,000, Hill said. Regarding electric buses, he said the buses cost $100,000 of electricity, and they save about $150,000 in maintenance due to the motor having only four parts compared to the diesel motor's around 3,200 parts. 

In addition to providing information on the electric buses, some gave their thanks during the news conference.

Lubbock Councilman Jeff Griffith gave his thanks to Citibus, Proterra and the government agencies that helped in making the buses possible.

“Perfect timing for the fall semester,” he said.

Despite the need to be sustainable, these electric buses may have a variety of effects on the community.

“It’s taken about two years now,” Mandrell said regarding the work to provide the electric buses. “We’re really excited to get these out to the public and allow the public to see and be a part of what we’ve been a part of for the last couple of years in getting these buses out on the street.”

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