Two new electric buses to cruise Corvallis by 2023, helping sustainability goals


Jess Hume-Pantuso

In this image from Feb. 2022 is one of the Corvallis Buses that are planned to be replaced by EVs in the future by CTS.

Adriana Gutierrez, Copy Editor

The Corvallis Transit System just received a $2.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to purchase two electric buses and a dedicated charging depot. This year, Corvallis was the only city government within the state to receive a grant. 

With the allotment of money for two new buses, Corvallis will retire two old diesel buses, furthering a city-wide commitment to sustainability. 

“The City has been working to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions since we first established goals focused on energy and vehicle fuel emissions in 2011,” said sustainability coordinator for the city of Corvallis Scott Dybvad, “A shift to an electric bus fleet will not only further reduce emissions but also greatly improve local air quality, an important issue with two major highways going through downtown.”

Prior to the option of transitioning to electric buses, the city switched fuel from biodiesel to renewable diesel in 2019, which accounted for a large reduction in emissions from transit, Dybvad said. 

Eventually, the city would like to convert the entire fleet to electric buses, said Timothy Bates, transit coordinator at CTS. By building a dedicated charging depot — located at CTS’s Public Works Facility in north east Corvallis — all new buses will have a dedicated place to park for the night and recharge.

Residents can expect to see the first two new electric buses on the streets of Corvallis in March of 2023. This first pair had an atypical acquisition. 

When the city received CARES funding in 2021, they were able to allocate their annual appropriations from FTA to purchase the buses, rather than spend the money on operation and maintenance, which is typically what the appropriations are used for.

Bates believes that this is what made Corvallis stick out when applying for this year’s round of grant funding. 

“When the FTA is handing out money, they want to make sure that it is going to be used and that the community is really involved in doing it,” Bates said. “Because we had demonstrated by using our own other grant money for this, we had demonstrated how serious we are about this.”

CTS applied for the same grant in 2020 and 2021, but were denied. 2022 may have shown that third time’s the charm for CTS.

But, getting the following two buses on the streets still will take some time, depending on how quick manufacturing and delivery will be, Bates said. He expects that all four buses will be in commission within the next two to three years. 

Corvallis — known for its free and accessible transit system — will not make any downgrades to services once the buses are swapped out. Bus fare will continue to be free, and city officials like Bates say they will continue working towards the goal of a fleet run on clean energy. 

“It’s very exciting,” Bates said. “We’ve been looking into this (saying): ‘How can we get away from diesel vehicles if at all?’ and this is the best way to do it.”

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