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Tulsa Transit Rolls Out 4 New, Electric Buses

Matt Trotter

Tulsa Transit has added its first all-electric buses to the fleet.

The four Proterra ZX5, 40-foot buses unveiled Tuesday were designed and built in the USA.

Proterra Transit Team Senior Director Lauren Cochran Scoville said the environmental benefits of going electric are clear. Each diesel engine–driven bus taken off the road means 230,000 fewer pounds of carbon pollution — and that’s not the only benefit of ditching combustion engines.

"Without a combustion engine on board, riders can enjoy a quieter experience on board a Proterra battery electric bus. So, there are wider community benefits in the reduction of noise pollution as well," Cochran Scoville said.

Tulsa Transit General Manager Ted Rieck said many drivers are excited about the new buses.

"They accelerate a lot faster than a traditional bus, and if they drive them correctly, they have regenerative braking, which means they help extend the life of the vehicle while on the street," Rieck said.

The buses can go around 200 miles on a full charge and take about four and a half hours to recharge.

Mayor G.T. Bynum says the electric buses are the latest example of Tulsa incrementally improving its transit system, starting with a dedicated sales tax in 2016.

"This is, I think, a really important way that we're looking at diversifying the fuel sources that we rely upon to provide a critical service here at the City of Tulsa," Bynum said.

Tulsa Transit plans to add more electric buses to its fleet as combustion-engine ones need to be replaced.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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