Santa Maria Regional Transit is launching its first two electric bus services this week.
The two Proterra Model ZX5+ vehicles with upgraded safety and passenger amenities, including public Wi-Fi, will debut on the city’s routes 1 and 11, which both serve Broadway (State Route 135) for the first week of service. SMRT will then rotate them to each route, so all residents have a chance to ride them.
These two electric buses are the first step in SMRT’s transition to zero-emission vehicles and becoming carbon-free by 2024, according to the city of Santa Maria. The California Air Resources Board is requiring that new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 be free of greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide.
“We are using federal and state grants to become 100% electric well ahead of state mandates,” Transit Service Manager Gamaliel Anguiano said in a statement. “These first two zero-emission vehicles represent a significant modernization of our city’s public transit fleet and represent the smart direction the city is taking in many of its programs.”
The new buses will come with the new SMRT branding livery. One bus has an artistic design reflecting the local landscape and a setting sun. The second bus is a vibrant electric blue and yellow. Both vehicles will be equipped with the latest in air quality management equipment.
With the adoption of the city’s 2022-24 budget, the transit division is authorized to spend about $22 million in federal and state funding over the next two fiscal years to support the purchase of as many as 15 electric buses, which will expand the total number of electric buses in the fleet to 17.
Transitioning to electric buses is anticipated to save the transit program’s operating budget about $300,000 annually for fuel and maintenance costs, ,according to the city of Santa Maria.
Some of the costs for electric vehicle charging stations will be reimbursed under PG&E’s E-Fleet Ready Program.
The city also received more than $200,000 from the State’s Low Carbon Transportation Operations Program for the transition.