Greensboro’s First Electric Buses to Hit the Road Next Year

Public transportation in Greensboro is about to get a lot greener, not to mention quieter. Plans are moving ahead to replace the city’s fleet of diesel fueled buses with battery powered electric models, with the first three electric models scheduled to hit the streets in early 2018. The city’s switch to electric made the news in December 2016, when Duke Energy awarded the Greensboro Department of Transportation (GDOT) a $450,000 grant for the purchase of a rapid charging station for the electric buses. The charging station, which will be installed at the J. Douglas Gaylon Depot on East Washington Street, will be able to fully charge a bus battery in seven to 10 minutes. GDOT Director Adam Fischer said the city is ready to finalize the order of the charging station as well as the first three electric buses, but that the results won’t be immediate. “The order will take about a year to complete,” said Fischer. The wait is due to the made-to-order nature of electric vehicles. “They don’t just have electric buses sitting around waiting to roll off the lot. You have to place an order and then they build them for you,” Fischer explained. GDOT wants to switch to all electric in the next 10 years, but the change will not happen all at once. The city plans to use the annual federal funds granted to replace buses that have reached the end of their 12-year or 500,000 mile lifespan with their electric counterparts. Electric buses cost significantly more than buses powered by diesel, so the city will use $4.5 million in voter approved transportation bonds from last November’s ballot to help ease the transition to electric buses. “We’re getting ready to place the order for three electric buses now,” said Fischer. Greensboro’s current fleet of buses contains 47 diesel models and 11 hybrids, which alternate between diesel and electric engines. The hybrid buses were introduced in 2011, as a way for the city to reduce fuel emissions and save money on diesel costs. Fischer said that while the hybrid models have helped somewhat, electric buses have since proven to be even more cost effective. “Overall maintenance and operations costs of the electric buses pan out to be better over the long haul. Hybrid buses save us some on fuel, but not as much as we’d anticipated,” said Fischer. Electric buses pose no fuel costs or emissions, and they also present fewer mechanical problems (another unexpected drawback of the hybrid buses). “There’s still a pretty major maintenance routine that you have to go through with hybrid buses,” said Fischer. “You still have to change the oil; there are various transmission issues that go on. The electric bus motor system is much simpler. We’re anticipating much less maintenance cost with the electric vehicles.” A 2016 study conducted by Columbia University found that on average, an electric bus needs $39,000 less upkeep than a diesel bus each year. So over the average 12-year lifespan of each electric bus, the city can expect to save around $468,000 compared to diesel. A fleet made up entirely of electric buses could also represent health care savings for city residents. The same Columbia University study found that the reduced air pollution caused by introducing just one electric bus would save residents of New York City roughly $100,000 per year in health care costs. That number would likely be lower in a small city like Greensboro, where air pollution related illness is less of a problem. But the savings are still nothing to sneeze at (or rather, cough at). Greensboro’s switch to electric buses is just one part of a state and nationwide shift away from fossil fueled vehicles. The 2016 GDOT grant for the charging station is linked to Duke Energy’s Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Project. The project aims to make North Carolina more environmentally friendly by installing 200 electric vehicle-charging stations around the state for use by passenger vehicles. There are already nearly 800 such charging stations around North Carolina, but the Duke Energy project represents a 30 percent increase in stations statewide. With electric vehicles gaining ground in both the public and personal spheres, it looks like Greensboro’s transportation and environmental policies will keep rolling toward the future. Mia Osborn is a Greensboro-based freelance writer who hails from Birmingham, Alabama.  
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600 new call center jobs coming to High Point

HIGH POINT – Alorica, a customer service company and call center, announced they were adding 600 new jobs to the Triad. The company, formerly Expert Global Solutions, has a branch located on Federal Drive in High Point.

#BREAKING: #Alorica adding 600 MORE jobs in addition to 800 announced in November @WFMY

— Meghann Mollerus (@meghannmollerus) February 21, 2017

The announcement comes after Alorica announced they were adding 800 jobs to the area in November. The majority of the 600 jobs announced Tuesday will be full-time and permanent.

RELATED:Expert Global Solutions Adding 800 Jobs to Triad

“We have a lot to sell here in the piedmont of North Carolina,” said Cooper, mentioning the earlier jobs added by Alorica along with the airport.

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Warm weather worries Guilford County farmers

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — When you are a farmer, you expect the unexpected. “As far as farming goes, we’re always competing against the weather,” says James Keenan, co-owner of Bernie’s Berries in Greensboro. But sometimes even the seasoned experts like Keenan and his wife Bernie are thrown for a loop. The couple was shocked on Saturday when they pulled back the covers on their 105,000 strawberry plants and found not just blooms, but ripe strawberries. “All these blooms that you […]
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$500 reward offered for hit-and-run info

GREENSBORO — The NC Trooper’s Association is offering a $500 reward for information in the hit-and-run that killed 12-year-old Dorien Pearsall last week.

Master Trooper Chris Knox with the State Highway Patrol says they’ve passed out around 400 flyers, gone door to door following up on leads and hit social media hard to find potential suspects with no luck.

RELATED:12-Year-Old Boy Killed In Greensboro Hit-And-Run

In a release sent Monday morning, Knox says the reward is in addition to the reward offered by the Guilford County Crime Stoppers.

Officials say Pearsall was hit by a car traveling south on Ward Road from East Market Street around 11:10 p.m.

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