City moves toward purchase of electric bus

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Juneau government officials are unsure if they will save money by using an electric bus in their transit fleet.

    The Public Works and Facilities Committee forwarded a $408,130 grant from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to help pay for the new bus.  The city plans to supplement the grant with about $300,000 in existing grant money that had been previously set aside to purchase a diesel powered bus.  It is expected to take 18 months for the bus is delivered.

    Streets and Transit Superintendent Ed Foster said he thinks this will benefit the community, "I think it is a great thing for Juneau.  Everything I've read and been told says the climate here is ideal for electric vehicles because it doesn't get too hot or too cold.  The battery system will work well in this climate."

    A diesel bus uses about $25,000 per year in fuel.  The average life of a diesel bus is 12 years and 500,000 miles.  The city expects the life span of the electric bus to be comparable.  The big cost might be a new battery which costs $150,000. 

    The department will make some infrastructure changes like battery chargers.  The mechanics will receive additional training on how to fix the bus.  Foster said they will have to wait and see about possible cost savings, "It all depends on how the battery performs in this climate.  We don't really know how long the battery will last.  If we have to replace it, any fuel savings we have could go down the drain."

    Foster said it is very possible to have an entire fleet of electric buses one day,  "I hope it does really well so we can continue to move toward electric buses."

    -The city received insurance funds of $1.33 million to begin the reconstruction of Project Playground in Twin Lakes.  The Park was destroyed by a fire set by children playing with matches.  The Committee moved the appropriation to the full Assembly.

    -the committee endorsed the creation of the downtown street banner selection committee.  This will likely consist of seven members.  One representative would come from the Downtown Business Association, one from the Historic Resources Advisory Committee, one from Sealaska, one from the Filipino Community, and two from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.  The seventh could come from the Tlingit and Haidi Indian Tribe.  The members will be appointed by the full assembly.  The city plans to replace all the downtown street banners.

    -the city also will sent out notices to building owners on Franklin Street with broken canopy and roof drainage system.  Apparently rain has been falling onto new sidewalks the city installed last year and caused deterioration.  The city also has concerns about restriction of the right of way and useable sidewalks space.  The sidewalks downtown are already narrow and when it is raining, people choose not to walk under the dripline and so the useable walking space is limited.  CBJ building and land use codes require roof and canopy to drain into approved drainage ways, which in the downtown area is the municipal storm water system.  The community development department will begin enforcement of the roof drainage requirement over the next few months.

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