• City proposes Charlotte Douglas Airport swap diesel shuttle buses for electric

    By: Joe Bruno

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte Douglas International Airport may swap its diesel shuttle buses for electric ones.

    A proposal was presented to Charlotte City Council Monday night. Currently there are 70 diesel buses at the airport. Despite mostly just doing loops around the airport, the buses burn 547,500 gallons of fuel a year. The current buses have an 8 year life cycle and on average 13 are out of service.

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    The city wants to start transitioning to electric fleet at the airport in the 2020 fiscal year and have all buses switched over by 2026.

    Electric buses cost more money up front. The typical electric bus costs $785,000. A diesel bus costs $335,000. Infrastructure for electric buses is priced at $1.5 million for bringing a 3mW transformer and associated paving and concrete re-structure.

    The electric buses are a couple hundred thousand dollars cheaper to operate each year and they have a life cycle of 12 years.

    The airport has tried to use "hybrid" electric buses in the past. Starting in 2007 -- the city spent $5 million to buy 10 buses. By 2014, the entire fleet was broken down. The company that made the buses was bankrupt so the airport couldn't get replacement parts or service. The airport auctioned off the buses.

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    Former Mayor Anthony Foxx worked for the company Designline. The city did not look for better offers because Designline was the only company in the region that made them.

    A spokesperson for the airport says the Aviation Department is recommending City Council approve a contract with Proterra, Inc. for five electric buses.  City Council will consider that contract on May 28, 2019.

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