Editor: It was good to see the Sun Gazette [editorial, June 30] agree that the Fairfax County government and its Fairfax Connector bus system should move forward with electric buses and acknowledge that “lowering dependence on fossil fuels is indeed the right long-term strategy.”
But it’s long past the time to go slow, as the editorial suggested.
Regarding whether electric buses are “likely to increase pressure on the electrical grid,” the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the New York Times have reported the electric grid will be able to handle transportation electrification. And transit operators begin working with utility providers at the beginning of the process to electrify their fleets because it’s a critical part of any transition plan. Fairfax County is no exception, and is already coordinating with its utility provider.
Electric buses are a relatively new technology compared to century-old diesel-bus technology and, like any new technology, will continuously improve over time. Fairfax County staff noted that today’s electric buses can be used on a third of Fairfax Connector routes. Electric buses are less expensive to operate and maintain, cost less to fuel, are not at the mercy of fossil-fuel price volatility, are quieter, and don’t emit toxic and climate- harming pollutants.
Other Virginia transit providers – such as Alexandria’s DASH, Hampton Roads Transit and Blacksburg Transit – began exploring electric buses in 2018 and already have 25 buses on the road and about 25 more on order.
Fairfax County has already taken it slow and “let others be on the cutting edge.” Continuing on that path prolongs the use of diesel buses and the noise and pollutants that come with them.
It’s time to get electric buses on the road, evaluate the experience, and do the detailed planning to enable a transition that meets stated goals of buying only electric buses after fiscal year 2024 and running an all-electric fleet by 2035.
Steve Banashek, Alexandria
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