By Will Driscoll, Arlington 350 core group member
Arlington has contracted to buy 13 natural gas (methane)-fueled buses, even though electric buses, which can run on solar or wind power, are widely available. Because the contract is with New Flyer, which also makes electric buses, Arlington could ask to renegotiate the contract and specify electric buses.
Electric buses can provide transit savings, per Bloomberg New Energy Finance, when fuel and maintenance expenses are considered.
Los Angeles has ordered 160 electric buses from manufacturers New Flyer and BYD, and 25 more from Proterra. New York, Philadelphia and Washington combined will receive 50 Proterra buses this year, while Seattle is testing electric buses from three different manufacturers.
Arlington’s 13 new methane-powered buses will cause pollution over an expected life of 12 years and 500,000 miles. The methane to power them is obtained via fracking, which contaminates groundwater and releases methane to the atmosphere. Methane has a global warming potential 56 times greater than carbon dioxide. Combustion of methane produces carbon dioxide.
China is way ahead on electric buses; Chinese manufacturer BYD has sold electric buses to 200 cities worldwide.