Kitsap’s only electric bus now has a permanent route.
Kitsap Transit public information officer Sanjay Bhatt said the fully electric bus, purchased last year, has started servicing route 13, traveling between the Silverdale Transit Center and the Bremerton Transit Center.
The bus joins a fleet of 70 routed buses in Kitsap County which run on diesel fuel.
The electric bus is quieter, easier to maintain and there are no emissions, which improves air quality, Bhatt said. It cost roughly $1 million, which includes funds for a charging station and other equipment. It was purchased with the help of a federal grant.
Kitsap County was one of several transit agencies to receive funds from the Federal Transit Administration, an agency of the Department of Transportation, Bhatt said.
The new bus has already proven its efficiency. Since being rolled out, it’s used $791 worth of electricity to travel 4,089 miles. To travel that distance on diesel fuel would cost $4,816, Bhatt said, representing a savings of 84 percent.
“The whole transit industry is looking at the potential of electric buses for their efficiency, lower operating costs and because they’re better for the environment,” he said.
It is expensive, however, to build infrastructure to support the electric vehicles.
“The tradeoff is that upfront costs are very high,” Bhatt said. “Typically a transit agency our size has to get a grant to cover that.”
Still, Kitsap Transit will be looking to purchase more electric buses, depending on available funding, Bhatt said.
Governor Jay Inslee has advocated for electric vehicles in the state by supporting a sales tax exemption on electric vehicles and by increasing the number of charging stations available to consumers.
King County is considered a model in the industry. In 2017, King County Metro announced it would be purchasing 120 electric buses to add to their fleet of 1,400 by 2020, and would seek to go fully electric by 2040.