KT adding 10 more buses to growing electric fleet

Kitsap Transit’s electric bus fleet is set to increase substantially after its board moved to authorize an $11.4 million purchase of 10 new battery-powered buses.

The board voted April 4 to approve the purchase, which continues to align with the organization’s mission to transition its fleet further from the use of natural gas. “This will bring our battery-electric fleet up to a total of thirty buses, which is what we had envisioned at this point,” KT executive director John Clauson said.

Half of the new additions are set to be utilized within the routed fleet, while the other half would be integrated into the worker/driver fleet, a first for KT, Clauson said. “We’re going to be moving electric buses into that program which, personally, other than the cost of the bus, is an ideal operating situation for a battery electric bus in that it operates for a short while in the morning, it’ll be at our facility recharging, and then it’ll be fully charged ready to go,” he said.

KT commissioner Anna Mockler brought up the topic of a higher cost to manufacture and purchase the buses compared to gas-powered buses. Clauson said that while the initial purchase is noticeably higher, other negated costs prove to make it better in the long run, which Mockler agreed with.

“I would add that one of the advantages that electricity has over fossil fuel is the maintenance cost,” he said. “Obviously, we don’t have oil changes that we have to deal with. The brakes last longer because it has a regenerative system that helps slow the vehicle down—things of that nature.”

While KT is working with the manufacturer of the buses, Gillig, to obtain them as soon as possible, the wait for their arrival could be around 18 months. Continued supply-chain issues were cited as the major factor.