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Eight new electric buses help Valley Transit on its way to become carbon neutral by 2035

person walking onto a Valley Regional Transit bus.
DARIN OSWALD / IDAHO STATESMAN
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New electric buses will be hitting Treasure Valley roads soon thanks to $17.4 million in federal funding.

There are 12 already in circulation, so when the eight new ones arrive, a third of the buses in Ada and Canyon Counties will be electric.

Mark Carnopis from the Valley Regional Transit says the goal is to eventually replace all compressed gas buses. Saving money at the pump is just one advantage, he added.

“They're very quiet,” he said. “As a matter of fact, they're quicker too. They're lower maintenance because we don't have to do a lot of oil changes.“

The move is in line with the City of Boise’s 100% carbon neutral goal of 2050. The agency actually plans to meet that objective 15 years earlier.

Combined with the close to zero emissions, Carnopis says the transition to electric is a win for everyone. Even the bus drivers.

“They like the umph that the electric motors have because the power transfer is pretty quick,” Carnopis said. “That extra power is always welcome.”

This batch of new electric buses will gradually replace older vehicles as they are decommissioned, at the latest by 2025.

This move will also increase air quality and reduce noise pollution, he said.

“Using charging with electricity versus using compressed natural gas, which the prices have jumped along with the gasoline prices as of late and stuff, too, so we just think there's a lot of pluses to the process.”

High demand across the country has created a backlog with manufacturers, which may delay when the new buses will first hit the roads.

The agency is anticipating that 100 percent of its vehicles will be carbon neutral by 2035.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.