Santa Rosa CityBus plans to buy 4 electric buses, in 1st step toward a zero-emission fleet


With nearly $3 million in federal money, Santa Rosa CityBus will begin to shift gears toward going electric.

The city’s transportation and public works department recently learned it was awarded $1.78 million in Federal Transit Administration dollars dedicated to improving the nation’s bus safety and reliability through vehicle and infrastructure upgrades. Santa Rosa also came away last year with about $1.2 million through the competitive grant program and now plans to use the total pot to buy its first four zero-emission buses.

“We were lucky. We didn’t think we would be able to strike gold twice,” said Jason Nutt, director of Santa Rosa transportation and public works. “We need these types of windfalls to be able to keep up with the program.”

Under a proposed regulation from the state’s Air Resources Board, a governmental agency that works to fight climate change by reducing air pollution, cities and counties across California would need to deploy full zero-emission bus fleets by 2040. To push that process along, the policy calls for a quarter of new bus purchases to be electric starting in 2026, with all purchases meeting the requirement three years later.

The benchmarks are included in the proposal because federal rules require the useful life of a heavy-duty transit bus to be 12 years or 500,000 miles — whichever comes first — and the state’s operators would need time to plan. Many cities, including Santa Rosa, get more years out of their fleet through consistent maintenance, and out of necessity because of insufficient funding to replace vehicles every dozen or so years.

“Our buses hang around for a while,” said Rachel Ede, a deputy director of the city’s transportation and public works department who oversees transit. “We’re able to keep them up and running for 15 years.”

Some of the city’s current fleet of 32 mostly diesel or diesel-hybrid coaches go even longer than that. The four electric buses it plans to buy will replace those remaining from model year 2002 or possibly one or two of the 2008s, while four new “clean diesel” buses already on order will remove all of the 2000 models from the rotation.

Continuing to buy the latest diesel technology option is a part of the long-term strategy, because of the higher cost of electric models and need for new infrastructure such as charging stations. The clean diesel models have a price tag of about $500,000. The electric buses still run about 50 percent more, Nutt said, and the upkeep, lifespans and distances they can travel between charges still aren’t as reliable as their predecessor technologies.

Over time, however, the hope is zero-emission models become cheaper and easier to integrate into existing fleets. The belief is as more operators make the transition and better understand the power needs and facility upgrades required to run all electric, it’s only a matter of time before that happens.

In the meantime, Santa Rosa is trying to join Sonoma County Transit — which received its first electric coach in September — as an early adopter before it becomes a state mandate. Following study and pending City Council approval this fall or winter, the city plans to leverage state vouchers worth $150,000 per bus and take delivery of four zero- emission models and related charging stations in the next two years.

“Our goal to keep a healthy fleet on the road,” Nutt said. “The makeup of that fleet is dependent on the outside criteria we’ve got to meet. But especially in California, as we move toward the elimination of fossil-fuel vehicles and increase miles per gallon for current gas and diesel engines, it means a shift to all electric.”

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L Taraval Rapid Project

In response to numerous collisions and reported safety concerns, temporary enhancements and community engagement are currently underway to make Taraval better for everyone who depends on it, including the Muni riders who make 30,000 trips on the L Taraval each day. This is the first step towards much-needed rehabilitation on Taraval Street that will replace infrastructure like the worn rails, overhead wires, water and sewer lines, as well as repave the entire street beginning in 2019.

When construction begins, it will last approximately two years and service on the L Taraval will remain throughout with a combination of buses and trains. Once completed, the corridor will boast new transit priority traffic signals, bulbouts to make pedestrian crossing safer, new trees, enhanced crosswalks, safety boarding islands, increased accessibility,  and unique wayfinding elements. All of these changes will make Taraval more inviting for everyone that uses it.

Biketoberfest in Marin October 13th, 2018 11 am to 5 pm

Join us this Saturday in Fairfax! We’ll be in booth #1 with representatives from our good friends at Bike Friday in Eugene, Oregon. We’ll be showcasing and offering demo rides on the latest in folding bikes — both electric pedal assist and ‘acoustic’ — for touring, commuting, and cargo hauling.

Biketoberfest in Marin
This Saturday, October 13th, 2018
11 am to 5 pm
FairAnselm Plaza
765 Center Blvd.
Fairfax, CA 94930

Savor delicious brews, see and demo amazing bikes and E-Bikes from BikeFriday, Yuba among many others, hear incredible live music featuring The Pulsators, enjoy family activities and connect with over 60 bike exhibitors all while taking in the gorgeous Marin October weather. There is something for everyone at Biketoberfest Marin!

You can demo E-Bikes, Folding Bikes, Tandem Bikes, Cargo Bikes
LIVE MUSIC: The Pulsators, Alice Drinks the Kool Aid and Blushin’ Rushin’!
BREWFEST: Sampling of 35 beers from 20 California brewers in a souvenir glass!

Biketoberfest is FREE, but…

Biketoberfest Highlights…..

60 bike exhibitors and a handmade bike show!

35 varieties of beer from 20 West Coast brewers!

Live Music

Group road ride and mountain bike rides!

Delicious food from local vendors!

FREE Valet Bike Parking provided by MCBC – RIDE, DON’T DRIVE!
Be smart, ride the SMART train to San Rafael!!!!

Visit for more information.

The Sudden, Shocking Growth of Hurricane Michael

Author Rick Coates

In case you needed another reason to get out of your carbon dioxide generator (AKA automobile) when you travel consider Hurricane Michael.   It’s the burning of fossil fuels in our cars that causes climate change.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Michael became the second major storm to make landfall this year. Michael is an incredibly dangerous, history-making storm, bringing catastrophic high winds and deadly storm surge to Florida’s Panhandle. It ranks among the most ferocious land-falling hurricanes in American history.

“THIS IS A WORST CASE SCENARIO for the Florida Panhandle!” said Louis Uccellini, the director of the National Weather Service, in a statement. Officials urged local residents who have not already evacuated to stay inside or find shelter on high ground.

Michael, which will churn across the Southeast over the next several days, has already broken records. As a powerful Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael is the strongest hurricane ever recorded making landfall on Florida’s Panhandle. It is also the strongest October hurricane ever known to come ashore in the continental United States, according to the historian Philip Klotzbach.

And by one important measure, Michael is the third strongest storm ever to come ashore in the continental United States. Only the Labor Day Storm, in 1935, and Hurricane Camille, in 1969, had a lower barometric pressure than this storm.

This intensity could spell potential disaster for Florida’s Panhandle. On Wednesday morning, Air Force Hurricane Hunters measured sustained, minute-long winds of 150 miles per hour near Michael’s eye. Winds that strong are capable of snapping trees in half, sending telephone poles flying through the air, and tearing the roof off of well-built homes. Such powerful gales often leave the area “uninhabitable for weeks or months,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

Gov. Brown signs bill paving way for 300-mile North Coast trail

Author Rick Coates

The California North Coast is moving ahead with a beautiful trail through the scenic Eel River Canyon and extending the potential route of our new Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit(SMART).  The commuter/tourist train has been both a financial and transportation success.  California’s Governor Jerry Brown has just signed legislation that creates a new trail authority and transfers ownership of neglected rail right-of-way to SMART.  This is an exciting development for those of us who are fans of trails and rails.  It will provide another way for tourists to travel without their car, extend the SMART train potentially as far north as Willits linking three large counties, and get freight out of big trucks and onto rails.  EcoRing encouraged State Senator McGuire to move this legislation and pressed the Governor to sign it.  It resolves many economic and environmental problems simultaneously.

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