Macon-Bibb is getting a nod from state leaders for its follow-through on sustainability efforts.
Georgia Public Service Commission Vice Chair Tim Echols visited the Macon Transit Authority on Tuesday to commend the MTA on its two electric buses and overall sustainability plan.
“You know, there’s a lot of opportunities that cities have. And maybe a city doesn’t go all electric right away, maybe they drip that into their bus fleet. But Macon was ahead of the curve on natural gas buses as well. They’ve been working for a long time to reduce emissions on their buses, and by getting these BYD buses here, they’re really leading the way. Atlanta doesn’t have these. MARTA doesn’t have these. This is leadership, and I’m here to commend them for it.”
Commissioner Echols said Macon-Bibb is leading the way because they’ve actually purchased and started using the vehicles.
He explained that “there’s a lot of cities that set clean energy goals, but never really do anything.”
Macon is using its electric buses on routes while testing what other routes they can use these buses on.
“These are expensive buses, and you have to build out a lot of specialized infrastructure. It takes a while to do this. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and they’ve started with two,” said Echols, who added that Macon is acting as “a pioneer in transportation.”
Echols explained that electric buses have fewer moving parts, no radiator, no oil, and they don’t have a typical transmission.
As a result, he said, electric buses “will last longer, you will have cheaper fuel costs. Electricity’s cheaper than the diesel or natural gas that they would have otherwise be using.”
Commissioner Echols visited Lancaster, California several months ago to tour the Build Your Dreams (BYD) plant that makes MTA’s electric buses.
Two of the buses currently on the line at BYD are expected to be in Macon by late 2021.
The Commissioner spent part of his visit to MTA by riding on one of the county’s electric buses on a downtown route.
“Electric vehicles provide a chain reaction of benefits,” Echols said. “Beyond the significant reduction in carbon emissions there is substantial value in maximizing the efficiency of Georgia’s statewide grid.”
Echols is currently serving his second term on the Georgia Public Service Commission after being reelected in November 2016.
He was named Innovator of the Year in June at the Smart Grid Customer Education Symposium’s 2021 Game Changers Awards.