RENO -- The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County unveiled four new, all-electric buses that produce zero emissions Monday. US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with RTC's executive director and other elected representatives, attended a celebration at RTC's 4th Street Station.
"How many times have we been behind a bus, they take off, and that black stuff pours out of them? That's not going to happen any more," Reid said.
The buses are hitting the roads in Washoe County as the result of a federal grant from the US Department of Transportation/Federal Transit Authority.
RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson said the buses will save RTC an estimated two-hundred thousand dollars each year.
"This is state-of-the-art. In short, it doesn't get any better than this," Gibson said.
The Proterra battery-electric buses charge at RTC 4th Street Station by docking using apparatus on the roof. The charging may be done when passengers are getting on and off the buses. The wireless process also does not require the driver's intervention, according to RTC.
"The unique thing about our bus is it's the only bus in the world that can be completely recharged in 10 minutes," Dale Hill, the founder of Proterra, Inc. said.
Hill added the Proterra batteries used in the buses are manufactured by Altairnano -- a Reno company.
Gibson said Washoe County was selected for this pilot program partly to determine how the buses perform in a high-desert climate. He said if the electric buses prove successful, RTC may acquire several more.
The buses are already in service on RTC's downtown circular route.
In addition to the all-electric buses, RTC has diesel-electric hybrid buses as part of its fleet.