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Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on November 23rd, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 23, Issue 39

Santa Maria received two new zero-emissions buses, bringing the city closer to an all-electric fleet

By Taylor O'Connor

Santa Maria recently gained its first two all-electric buses as part of an effort to fully electrify its fleet, which should be completed by early 2024. 

The push toward a zero-emission public transportation system comes after a 2018 state mandate that requires all public entities to make this change by 2035, Transit Service Manager Gamaliel Anguiano said. 


ZERO-EMISSIONS
The first two all-electric buses began routes in Santa Maria, and the city is expected to get 13 more buses before 2024.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SANTA MARIA

“First and foremost we are going to comply with state mandates, but we do have a unique opportunity in that we are actually able to accelerate our timeline [through] a combination of awarded funds [and] restructuring our system where we won’t need as many vehicles to deliver the same quality of service,” Anguiano said. 

Santa Maria purchased the buses—which each cost more than $830,000—through a combination of annually allocated state and federal funds. Six more buses are on the way after the city received a $6.6 million federal Low or No Emission Vehicle Program grant, he said. With the adoption of the city’s 2022-24 budget, the transit division is authorized to spend about $22 million in federal and state funding over the next two fiscal years to purchase as many as 15 electric buses. 

“The timeline is that we have these two on hand, 10 more on order to be delivered by 2023, and Low or No discretionary funds will give us the remaining six we need by 2024,” Anguiano said. 

The first two buses are deployed on routes 1 and 11, which both go up and down Broadway, but will be rotated among the rest of the routes to give everyone in the community a chance to ride the new buses, he said. 

“We do view this as a learning opportunity. While we anticipate this as a successful project, they do have some nuances from diesel buses,” Anguiano added. “There are some unknowns. We are going to use these two to learn more before we deploy the next 10 in 2023.” 

The manufacturer couldn’t guarantee a specific range the buses can travel, since Santa Maria doesn’t have common setbacks like hills or extreme temperatures. Although the transit department anticipates a strong performance, officials won’t know the details until the buses are on the road, he said. 

“There’s a lot of positives in this transition to electric vehicles. Obviously, there’s ecological benefits, but there will also be a huge reduction in noise, maintenance, and of course gas prices,” Anguiano said. “We anticipate we would be saving about $300,000 in fuel and in maintenance once we are 100 percent electric.” 

Right now, the city’s spending about $280,000 on fuel, and the operating diesel vehicles have maintenance requirements that cost an additional $20,000. The transit department hopes that having electric vehicles will eliminate some of these costs and attract more users, he said. 

“A lot of [Gen Z] are delaying their licensing, and we need to be ready to receive them, attract them, and retain them. Modernizing our fleet will help us do that,” Anguiano said. “I [also] want to extend the invitation for people if they are looking to save on fuel, or if inflation is affecting their families, to look at public transit and look at the routes now that we are modernizing our routes and our fleets.” 

Visit the city’s website to see updated bus routes or call (805) 928-5624 for more information.

Highlight 

• Boomers in Santa Maria is hosting a Toys for Tots Toy drive to provide holiday gifts and joy to those in need. Toys for Tots is a program that the U.S. Marine Corps runs with the mission to provide holiday spirit and cheer to families that cannot afford to buy Christmas presents for their children. Boomers—a family entertainment center featuring mini golf, go-karts, and an arcade—is hosting its drive through Dec. 9. Children’s toys of all kinds and for all ages can be dropped off at the park, 2250 Preisker Lane.

Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s Spotlight. You can reach her at toconnor@santamariasun.com.










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What do you think about a farmworker resource center in Santa Barbara County?

It's a great way to create a network of collaboration and reach people in need.
It's been needed in the county for a long time and should have been made earlier.
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