Ohio Transit Authority Keeps Expanding its Alt-Fuel Fleet


Ohio’s Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) plans to spend $4.41 million in federal funding on two electric buses and eight paratransit vehicles that will run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

The electric buses, the first in SARTA’s fleet, will transport veterans to appointments at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. SARTA will also purchase two chargers.

“It’s something we wanted for quite a while – and a better bus for that route, so the veterans didn’t have to sit on hard plastic seats for two hours up to Cleveland,” says Kirt Conrad, CEO of SARTA.

The electric buses, made by Illinois-based Motor Coach Industries at $1.1 million each, are expected to be delivered by fall 2024. SARTA already has several hydrogen fuel cell buses in its fleet.

The CNG vehicles will replace older diesel models that are being phased out of the agency’s paratransit fleet of 60. Costing $170,000 each, the new vehicles, made by Ohio-based Tesco Bus, are expected to be delivered in about a year. In 2021, according to Conrad, SARTA also purchased five fuel cell vehicles for $450,000 but has experienced issues with battery reliability.

SARTA says it began replacing its diesel vehicles with CNG 10 years ago. Today, the transit authority currently operates 36 CNG vehicles and a public-access fueling station.

The latest funding is part of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that Congress passed in November 2021. Of that money, $5.3 billion was allocated to fund the purchase of low- and no-emission buses for public transit agencies. The Ohio Department of Transportation, which was awarded $29.33 million, applied for the funds on behalf of SARTA and nine other Ohio transit systems, which submitted applications in the spring.

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