Merced-area residents will begin seeing a new style of bus roaming local streets and roads from now on.
‘The Bus’ regional transportation system unveiled and put into circulation its first electric buses this week — marking the start of a transition to a zero-emission fleet.
Five “New Flyer” model vehicles are now being integrated into The Bus’ system serving the communities of Planada and Merced, including a route to the university.
The roll-out of these electric buses has been eagerly anticipated as far back as 2020 when state and federal grant funding became available. Local Measure V funds set aside specifically for public transit purposes also contributed $500,000 to help offset the purchase of the new vehicles. Measure V is a 30-year 1/2 cent transportation sales tax that was passed by voters in 2016.
“The Bus and Measure V working together to bring these clean, electric vehicles to the streets of Merced County is exactly the kind of partnership that voters intended when they said they wanted better transportation systems in their neighborhoods,” said Stacie Guzman, executive director of the Merced County Association of Governments. “This day marks an important step on the path to a zero-emission future for our community.”
Government mandates require the transition to a fully electric fleet by 2040, with the first requirements for the transition to electric taking effect in 2024. Utilizing electric buses means an improvement to local air quality as these buses will replace their retiring diesel counterparts on the road.
The new electric bus is a site to behold. At 40 feet long, the bus can carry up to 38 passengers, including two wheelchair positions, and can travel approximately 250 miles between charges.
In total, nine of these electric buses have been ordered for Merced County, but long supply-chain and manufacturing delays have prevented the initial conversion of the local fleet until now.
The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County and is administered by the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County and managed by the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG).
On Wednesday, MCAG Board members and local transportation officials gathered to celebrate the new electric buses with a ribbon-cutting ceremony before one of the vehicles entered into circulation.
“This is a big moment for us,” Guzman said as the bus departed. “A lot of work and many years went into this.”
All bus schedules and hours of operation can be found online at: mercedthebus.com or by calling The Bus at (209) 723-3100.