Four new battery-electric buses will be ready to roll through the county by fall 2021 as part of METRO’s public transportation fleet.
The first two electric buses of the quartet will be used for the Zero-Emission Watsonville Circulator Operating Project. Through the project, those buses will run on a new route in downtown Watsonville in the fall, METRO spokesperson Danielle Glagola said.
The new route is designed to reduce the number of riders using intercity buses for local trips, and increase the number of transit passengers by providing more frequent service to desirable destinations in Watsonville, Glagola said. They will run between 10am and 8pm daily.
Watsonville Mayor Jimmy Dutra, who is also on the board of directors at METRO, said he is charged up about the additions. He said the project has been in the works since 2015.
“This included searching for funding and we eventually were able to garner enough funding to purchase these buses from the company Proterra,” he said. “It’s been a long journey, and I’ve been on this ride from the beginning. I’ve been a big voice pushing for clean energy buses. We’re excited.”
The buses have been painted and are in their final testing phase, Dutra said.
The route for the first two electric buses will connect the Watsonville Transit Center with retail and medical destinations in Watsonville, Glagola said. Stops will include:
- Watsonville Transit Center (WTC)
- Freedom/Airport-Airport/Green Valley
These stops will connect commuters with existing local and intercity bus routes 69A, 72/72W, 74S, 75, and 79.
Funding for the $5.2 million project, Glagola said, stemmed from a variety of sources.
Dutra said the METRO board hopes to add more such buses in the future.
METRO staff is still working on route, charge and rate analysis for the other two buses, Glagola said.