Capital Metro introduced its first electric buses into its routes Sunday. The buses will be much quieter, better for the environment and cooler with the lack of exhaust than the existing models, said Melissa Ortiz, community engagement team coordinator at CapMetro.
“CapMetro just wants to do their part in helping the environment and having clean air,” Ortiz said. “Being able to bring electric buses just allows us to be part of how you contribute.”
Ortiz said CapMetro is starting with two buses and will roll out 10 more later this year. All buses that are cycled out of the CapMetro system will be replaced by electric buses, but the process will take place over time to be economical and to make sure the buses being purchased have the updated technology, Ortiz said.
The buses will be charged with solar power at a charging station at a CapMetro location in North Austin in order to power the buses with renewable energy, Ortiz said.
The buses, which will circulate throughout Austin, will be decorated with wraps that feature a compilation of 23 pieces from a local children’s art competition. The kids were inspired by the prompt: “What does a healthy planet look like to you?” Ortiz said.
“Why are we getting electric buses? It’s really so we can leave a better planet for our future,” Ortiz said. “We wanted to make sure that those who are going to inherit what we’re leaving behind are part of this vision.”
In addition to making the buses recognizable with art, CapMetro will be rolling out a service on their website that allows community members to track where the electric buses are on their route.
“I would be very interested (in riding),” said Kristian Chan, planetary science graduate student. “I think there’s a ‘cool factor’ as well to riding an electric bus, knowing it is electric and just better for the environment.”
Advertising junior Paige Cabianca commutes to class every day on the bus and said she would feel better about riding an electric bus because of the environmental benefits.
“It will probably make a lot more people want to take (the bus),” Cabianca said. “I think a lot of people bike instead of ride the bus because of the gasoline.”
Although Cabianca said she is excited about the electric bus system, she said CapMetro should prioritize rider safety because she does not always feel safe when taking the bus at night.
“There’s so many incidents. It’s kind of shocking,” Cabianca said. “They should really focus on (safety).”
Chan said public transportation is at a crossroads because it is not yet big enough to service Austin at the rate that it is growing.
“With Austin growing (and) a lot of people moving in (not only) next to the UT community but just in Austin in general, I think the public transportation system is also maybe trying to grow as well,” Chan said. “It’s not quite there yet.”