As the only 2020 Federal Transit Administration Low or No Emission Vehicle Program grant recipient in the state, Greenlink will put more than $5 million — along with $1 million in local funding — toward six battery-electric buses and charging infrastructure, according to a news release. The expanded fleet is expected to be in service in 2023.
The delivery of the 35-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 battery-electric buses is expected to coincide with the completion of Greenlink’s maintenance facility project to meet the expanded ridership demands projected by its Transit Development Plan released in 2018, including 30-minute trip frequencies, according to the news release. The 2018 plan extends ridership hours throughout the week and into Sunday.
“The Low-No grant provides us with the opportunity to simultaneously improve air quality and transform the perception of public transportation in Greenville with a modernized fleet,” James Keel, transportation director of Greenlink, said in the release. “Coordinated with our ongoing efforts to implement the TDP, this fleet expansion will boost operational efficiency and reinforce Greenlink’s ability to connect people with employers, housing, education, healthcare, recreation and shopping opportunities.”
The federal grant program awarded $130 million in grants to 41 recipients across the country this year. Greenlink received one of the grants in 2017 which helped the transit authority purchase four 40-foot buses deployed in June 2019, according to a release. At least 58 letters of support adjoined Greenlink’s application for the 2020 grant, followed by an additional $600,000 from the Michelin Foundation, $300,000 from a settlement between the Greenville Health Authority and Prisma Health and $100,000 from Hollingsworth Funds.
The 35-foot buses are expected to enable greater mobility of the buses on narrow streets, while expanding Greenlink’s network of electric buses in Seneca and Clemson. In light of local air quality concerns, Proterra Catalyst vehicle produces zero tailpipe emissions, and creates a much smaller electric-usage footprint than former models, according to the release.