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Davenport considers adding electric buses to replace diesel fleet

The city would add four of the electric buses and replace two of its diesel buses.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — There are new efforts to "go green" with public transportation around the Quad Cities area.

Davenport is looking at rolling a new fleet of electric-battery city buses for the first time.

"We do have a great interest in trying electric buses in Davenport," said Nicole Gleason, the city's public works director.

All of Davenport's current buses run off diesel fuel. 

"Just kind of looking forward as technology changes to make sure we're staying with current technology trends," Gleason said.

The city would add four electric buses and replace two of its diesel buses.

"As far as serving the community obviously it will function the same," Gleason said.

Gleason said the fleet on the road has added up millions of miles and is near the end of life.

"Just from a long-term cost perspective obviously fuel is expensive for one, two, it's a much greener way to go, so part of it's improving air quality," Gleason said.

On the other side of the river, it was the first public transit company in Illinois to add electric buses, according to MetroLINK.

"It's zero emissions and it's better for the environment," said MetroLINK manager of administration Jennifer Hirsch.

MetroLINK first switched to alternative fuel in 2002 with compressed natural gas. 

MetroLINK has eight electric buses and will add nine more in May before taking out of service its diesel fleet. Hirsch said it costs 19 cents per-mile to run electric buses and 44 cents per mile on diesel. Metro also plans to upgrade and add additional charging stations in the near future. Overall, Metro will have 70% compressed natural gas buses and 30% electric. 

Davenport's plan would also include a charging station.

"We get kind of few complaints that buses are loud," Gleason said.

Passengers will not notice much of a difference other than a quieter ride.

"Just knowing that Davenport's looking forward in a green way," Gleason said.

Davenport is not expected to increase fares as a result of the project.

The new buses would cost $5.32 million. The city would use a federal grant and its capital improvement funds to pay for the buses.

Davenport City Council will vote to apply for the grant on April 27.

If approved, it could take 12 to 18 months before the new buses are in service.

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