SOCAN’s Great Electric Bus Adventure

The silent bus crept out of the Front Street Station at 12:15 pm on the auspicious date of Friday 13th.  Aboard, a happy band of SOCAN members and friends were making the trip from Medford to Grants Pass on a Zero Emissions Propulsion System (ZEPS) electric bus from Complete Coach Works in Riverside CA.  This bus is being considered by Josephine Community Transit (CJT) for addition to their fleet.   Making the trip to support the electric bus, the band of about 40 travelers boarded the lunch hour Rogue Valley Commuter Line (RVCL) service from Front Street Station to Grants Pass to support electric buses and enjoy a meal at “The Haul” on SW H Street in Grants Pass.

The Complete Coach Works Zero Emissions Propulsion System (ZEPS) electric bus served the Rogue Valley Commuter Line on Friday January 13th. On the 12:15 pm trip from Medford to Grants Pass some 40 SOCANistas and friends boarded the bus to support the electric transit idea and enjoy a convivial lunch in Grants Pass.

“In a time when those of us trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have too little to cheer about, the prospect of encouraging JCT to invest in an electric bus was just too good an opportunity to miss….” stated Alan Journet, Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SCAN) co-facilitator and instigator of the excursion.

According to the EPA, a single electric bus can produce $55,000 in health savings compared to a conventional diesel-powered bus.  Eugene’s Lane County Transit anticipates that i5 electric buses will save over $43,000 in operation costs, a saving of over $8,000 per bus.  Meanwhile, Complete Coach Works, the manufacturers of the Zero Emissions Propulsion System (ZEPS) electric bus visiting the Rogue Valley, report an Argonne National Laboratory assessment showing that the greenhouse gas emissions from an electric bus, even when powered by conventional electricity, are substantially lower than those from diesel, diesel-hybrid or compressed natural gas buses.  And, of course, if that electric bus is powered by renewably generated electricity, its emissions are zero.

JCT Program Supervisor Scott Chancey made the trek down to Medford and back on the ZEPS bus. Chancey, who is largely responsible for the electric bus opportunity, stated: We are hoping to save about $1,000 a month with an electric bus; imagine how much we could save is we had several such buses.”

Accompanying the electric bus fans on the regularly scheduled RVCL trip were surprise and genuine passengers Rob Tracey, with his bicycle, from Portland, and Grants Pass resident Candy Barton-Smith with her dog Strider. “I ride public transit a lot,” said Tracey, “and this is a very smooth ride compared to the conventional diesel bus.”

Journet added: “Transportation accounts for some 29% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.  The more folks we can encourage to ride public transit, and the more of those transit buses that are powered by electricity, the better we can reduce our national greenhouse gas emissions.  Progress like this increases the likelihood that our grandchildren have a livable planet.  Electric buses are definitely the wave of the future in public transit; it would be great to see more operating in our regional transit systems.”

To listen to James Stephen on The Jefferson Exchange Friday morning, click here

Story and photos by Alan Journet

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