January 31, 2023

Estuary Transit District Celebrates Launch of New Hybrid Electric Bus

Richard Cabral, Chairman of ETD, cuts the ribbon to celebrate the launch of two new hybrid electric minibuses.

A small group of elected officials, Estuary Transit District (ETD) Board members and community partners gathered in Old Lyme this morning to take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of 9 Town Transit’s two, new hybrid electric minibuses.  These are the first hybrid minibuses of their size in New England and were purchased with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Connecticut Clean Fuels Grant Program.

The ribbon was cut by ETD Chairman Richard Cabral and the ceremony was attended by several local First Selectmen and by State Senator Andrea Stillman (D-20th) whose district includes East Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, New London, Montville, Salem and Waterford,  and by State Representative Phil Miller (D-36th), whose district includes Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.  Miller also currently serves as Essex First Selectman.

The new minibuses are 22 feet long and hold 14 passengers in a comfortable, air-conditioned environment and are fully accessible to persons with disabilities, safely accommodating two wheelchairs.  They also have on-board security cameras for passenger safety and GPS tracking technology to improve on-time performance.

The vehicles are powered by smaller than usual gasoline engines supplemented by an electric motor.  Below 15 mph the vehicle is powered fully by electricity.  Above 15 mph an on-board computer blends gas and electric power to optimize efficiency.  The result is cleaner emissions, a quieter ride, and a 20% reduction in gas consumption.  “That’s significant,” said John Forbis, ETD Board Member, “since our overall annual gasoline bill for running the fleet is around $250,000.”

Each new bus cost $123,706, part of which was funded by the ARRA ($67,924)  and the remainder funded by the Connecticut Clean Fuels Program ($55,780).  “We have funds for three new hybrid buses next year” said Joe Comerford, Executive Director, ETD, “ I am excited that we at ETD are at the forefront of technology.”  When the entire fleet is converted to hybrid vehicles ETD expects to save more than $60,000/year in operating expenses.

Chairman Cabral paid tribute to Comerford’s contribution to the project saying, “All that has happened with 9 Town Transit is due directly to Joe Comerford – he has brought us eons ahead.”