GILLIG, Pierce Transit partner on fleet electrification

Pierce Transit is adding six GILLIG electric buses to its fleet, providing clean, quiet public transportation to Pierce County residents. The benefits of all-electric buses include zero emissions, 30 percent fewer parts, and lower maintenance costs compared to standard fuel buses.

The new buses are similar in appearance, operation and componentry to Pierce Transit’s standard 40’ GILLIG low-floor Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses, which will save Pierce Transit maintenance and training costs. The propulsion system for these electric buses is manufactured by Cummins and features battery packs and an electric traction motor versus the standard engine and transmission. The buses can travel between 150 and 170 miles on a single charge (actual figures can vary based on driving conditions).

Mike Griffus, CEO of Pierce Transit, notes “these buses are a continuation of our desire to become carbon neutral as soon as possible. One of our goals as a transit agency is to help combat climate change and we are exploring all initiatives to achieve that goal. A side benefit is to help diversify our fleet in the unlikely event of supply line failures.”

Pierce Transit already has one of the cleanest bus fleets in the nation, with about 80 percent of its buses running on clean, compressed natural gas, another 13 percent are hybrid-electrics, and 5 percent are battery-electrics. Just 2 percent of the agency’s bus fleet runs on diesel. Pierce Transit has a goal of converting 20 percent of its bus fleet to electric by 2030.

In 2016, Pierce Transit received a $2.55 million “Low or No Emission Program” federal grant to purchase three battery-electric buses and related charging infrastructure. Those electric buses, the first in South Sound, went into service in 2018. This year, six new battery-electric buses were purchased, three with Washington State Department of Ecology Air Pollution Control Account funds and three with federal Volkswagen settlement funds. The new buses went into service this week.

“These additional six battery electric buses will provide Pierce County with reliable and environmentally friendly transit,” said Bill Fay, GILLIG Vice President of Sales. “We’re looking forward to building on our partnership with Pierce Transit which began in 2010 and helping the agency achieve its goals of transitioning more of its fleet to electric. These new zero-emission buses will deliver industry-leading performance and durability.”