Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced that the County will be expanding its electric vehicle fleet, thanks to a $1.5 million grant for the purchase of two, 40-foot battery electric buses. The County plans to use the grant money, provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), to replace two diesel buses from 2005 with New Flyer buses, the same manufacturer that provided 78 diesel-electric buses for the County’s fleet in 2018.

Latimer said: “We saw tremendous success when the County added 78 diesel-electric buses to its fleet, with hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel being saved annually and a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions polluting our environment. Westchester County has proven our commitment to promoting public transportation as a means to decrease the number of vehicles on the road, traffic congestion and air pollution, as well as supporting a long term plan to phase in additional clean vehicles as we can get them.” 

US Senator Chuck Schumer said: “Westchester County’s Bee-Line bus system is a critical means of transportation for over 27 million each year and that’s why I fought for the funding needed to purchase two new, energy efficient, non-polluting, electric buses. These state-of-the-art buses will provide riders with a safe and efficient ride all while helping the environment. Investment in transportation infrastructure is critical for Westchester residents and businesses as we rebuild the Lower Hudson Valley economy. I will continue to help Westchester reduce dirty fossil fuels and modernize their fleets so commuters receive the safer, faster and cleaner rides they deserve.”

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said: “Public transit is critical for New Yorkers now more than ever. We must secure reliable transit for first responders, health care workers, and citizens who depend on it. As a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, I am committed to enhancing clean energy and protecting our environment. Our transit systems and infrastructure keep our communities moving and this critical funding will add two new electric, clean energy buses to Westchester’s busing system. I will always fight for the resources New York communities need to stay safe, modern, and efficient.”

Westchester County is working with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to purchase and install two chargers at its Valhalla garage, where the two buses will be stored and maintained. This will bring our electric transit bus total to six, as a recent NYPA grant is funding a charger for each of four additional electric 35-foot buses that will be ordered next month. Westchester County’s most recent bus purchase was from New Flyer for 78 hybrid electric, 60-foot vehicles, which were put in service in 2018 and 2019. Westchester County’s Bee-Line system is the second largest transit bus fleet in New York State, operated by the County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPW&T).

DPW&T Commissioner Hugh J. Greechan said: “These all electric buses are a natural progression from our previous diesel/electric hybrid bus acquisitions. Those vehicles were specially designed with the optional ability to run for distances of up to a mile on battery power alone. Thus, the diesel can be shut off when in one of our various depots, or when travelling in a very congested area. Our overwhelmingly satisfactory experience with that feature has given us confidence that we’re going in the right direction with full battery electric buses.”

Zero emissions vehicles are significantly cleaner and more energy efficient than conventional diesel vehicles. They reduce pollutants associated with greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2), particulate matter (PM), hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The benefits of zero emissions vehicles also mitigate the negative health impacts associated with these harmful pollutants such as respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

The 40-foot buses are the workhorses of the Bee-Line, accumulating nearly 3 million revenue miles in 2019, and operating on routes that have a combined daily weekday ridership (pre-COVID-19) of over 84,000 (95% of the daily Bee-Line weekday ridership; 25,080,000 out of over 26,400,000 annual Bee-Line riders).

The new buses will have state-of-the art safety features including driver safety shields composed of 1/2 inch thick Lexan semi-bullet proof glass to protect passengers and drivers. Passengers will be less prone to tripping due to cantilevered seats and a "jerkless" transmission that will make the ride smoother. Lighting will be improved, as the LED provides better color rendition for those on-board. The low-floors and “kneeling” feature will ease boarding for those with mobility challenges and reduce the risk of passenger falls.