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Reno unveils 4 new electric buses

RENO — Transportation officials in Reno have added to their fleet four new buses that run solely on electric batteries.

The buses are quieter, cleaner and cheaper than their gasoline-powered counterparts, according to officials for the Regional Transit Commission who said they expect to save up to $500,000 over the life of the vehicles.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., praised the cooperation between various agencies to secure a $4.6 million grant for the buses based on the promise of reducing pollution and improving public transit. They emit zero emissions and can be fully charged within 10 minutes at a special charging station at the downtown transit center, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. However, the electricity used to charge the buses can come from power plants that do pollute.

“This is just the beginning,” Reid said during an unveiling ceremony Monday.

“It’s not going to be long before garbage trucks are the same,” the Senate majority leader said. “This is going to happen a lot sooner than you think.”

RTC’s fleet of 71 buses includes 18 hybrid diesel-electric buses that run in part on electricity.

The new electric ones were developed by Proterra Inc., a South Carolina-based company. Its buses also are in use in Stockton and Pomona, Calif., RTC spokesman Michael Moreno said.

Proterra founder Dale Hill said people seem to have an easy time adapting to electric buses because of past transportation systems that used electricity, such as street cars and trolleys.

“When we completed federal testing over two years ago, it was like a light bulb went off around the United States. People said, ‘We’ve been riding electric trolleybuses for a hundred years, and this is just the trolley bus without the cable system,’” Hill said.

Paul Thompson, the Nevada Governor’s Department of Energy director, said it is an important step away from dependence on oil.

“These buses are replacing imported fuel today with our domestic electrical production,” he said.

The Review-Journal contributed to this report.

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