Juneau’s first electric city bus is here, will hit the streets in February 2021

Capital Transit's first electric bus has arrived
Capital Transit’s first electric bus from Proterra arrived in Juneau by barge on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. The City and Borough of Juneau expects it’ll be ready for the public to ride in February 2021. (Photo from the City and Borough of Juneau)

Juneau’s first electric city bus arrived by barge on Wednesday. 

The 40-foot bus should hit the streets by February. Capital Transit drivers and mechanics will receive training from California-based manufacturer Proterra in the meantime. 

The City and Borough of Juneau received a $1.5 million federal grant back in 2018 to buy the bus. Additional funding came from Alaska’s share of a multi-billion dollar legal settlement from Volkswagen.

The city has been awarded a total of $9.5 million in state and federal grants so far. 

“It’s pretty great that that Juneau would get four years in a row grants for that, and a lot of that is the community writing letters of support,” said Capital Transit’s Denise Guizio.

The Juneau Commission on Sustainability and Renewable Juneau both helped drum up support for the city’s grant applications. The plan is to replace seven diesel buses in the city’s fleet with electric buses when they retire in 2022. 

Guizio says they don’t know yet how Juneau’s cold, wet environment will impact the lifespan of the electric buses. But they shouldn’t need to be replaced any sooner than diesel buses. 

The state’s first electric school bus in the Interior town of Tok passed an extreme cold weather test when it operated with no problems in 30-below weather in October of this year. 

Juneau’s isn’t the first electric city bus in the state, but it’s the first one to hit the streets that’s owned by a transit agency. Anchorage previously leased an electric bus from Proterra for a trial period in 2018.

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