St. Petersburg, Fla.’s Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) leaders unveiled new electric buses that will reduce pollution and cost less to operate — purchased with money that VW was forced to pay after cheating on emissions testing for its vehicles.
Leaders from PSTA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) stood in front of a pair of brightly colored new buses and a massive set of gleaming white diesel fuel tanks. They illustrated just how beneficial the switch from diesel to electric can be — for both the global environment and the local budget.
“PSTA is a national leader in sustainability, and this shows you why: it's good for our planet, and it's good for our wallets. Each electric bus reduces the carbon emissions that cause climate change, cutting them by 135 tons per year. And each one costs less to operate, saving $20,000 each year,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller.
The giant white fuel tanks at PSTA headquarters hold 88,000 gallons of diesel fuel and take up as much space as a basketball court, according to the agency. A fleet of 60 diesel buses will guzzle all that fuel in just six weeks, Miller said. By replacing 60 retiring diesel buses with electric ones, PSTA expects to save a total of 11 million gallons of diesel fuel over the life of those buses.
VW Settlement Funds
Volkswagen has paid billions of dollars in government penalties after the car maker was caught cheating on emissions testing for its vehicles. PSTA has secured $18 million of that settlement money through the Florida DEP and will use it to buy new electric buses.
Through this Volkswagen Settlement funding and other sources, PSTA plans to replace dozens of retiring diesel buses with new electric ones in the near future — putting 14 on the road by the end of 2024 and reaching a bold total of 60 over the next three years.
Impact on The Region
PSTA already operates Florida's largest fleet of hybrid-electric vehicles, with more than 80 hybrid buses in its fleet. Because of its success in sustainability and other key areas, PSTA was recently named the most outstanding transit system for its size in the nation by the American Public Transportation Association.
“Volkswagen lied and pumped extra pollution into Florida's air, so they had to pay up. We went after a share of that money to reduce future pollution and continue PSTA's leadership in sustainability,” Miller said.