AKRON, Ohio — The METRO Regional Transit Authority unveiled Summit County’s first electric buses Tuesday, gathering Summit County officials at the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center to cut a bright, red ribbon.
METRO RTA Chief Executive Officer Dawn Distler said the first two electric buses are named “Volt” and “Bolt.” The buses were made by Gillig LLC, an American bus manufacturer.
The zero-emissions buses can go 150 miles per charge with 440 kilowatt hours of battery storage, and feature USB power outlets at each seat, Distler said. The buses can be charged at one of the Chargepoint charging stations METRO recently installed, which can charge up to four buses at one time.
A contactless system is in place to secure mobility devices with the touch of a button, METRO said, while electric air purifiers pull dust and bacteria out of the air space.
METRO’s board recently approved adding two more of the sleek buses to the fleet this year, said the agency’s Board President Robert DeJournett.
The electric buses will not be scheduled for a set route, but will run routes all over the region, the agency said.
METRO’s transportation services are critical to people across the region, said Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro.
“Being able to do it in an efficient and environmentally friendly way is critical as we face the challenges of mass transportation in the future,” Shapiro said.
The executive said she is “charged up” about collaborations in the county that make things like electric buses possible, and move the county forward.
“Folks, it gets more critical,” she said. “We know that climate change is real if you follow the science, and we need to be moving our community forward in a way that helps us get there and makes our contribution to the environment very positive.”
Barberton Mayor William Judge credited Distler and the METRO staff with redefining public transportation, so it does more than get people from point A to Point B.
“By incorporating sustainability in the overall plan, Metro has solidified their presence in all the communities that they serve,” he said.
Barberton adopted “Complete Streets” policies, he said, which is an approach that works to make all streets accessible and safe for everyone, regardless of age, ability and or mode of transportation used.
“…Metro is another great piece of that puzzle that brings it all together,” Judge said.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters called the new buses a “big deal.”
“We all hear that electric is coming, it's the wave of the future,” he said. “We don't see a whole lot of it quite yet but you have to take that leap of faith and that's the hard part. And you're doing it.”
Stow Mayor John Pribonic said METRO is leading by example.
“As Mayor Walters said, electric cars are coming,” he said. “The wave of the future is coming. And I'm proud to be associated with METRO that is bringing us into the future.”
Summit County Councilwoman Veronica Sims called the buses “incredible.” Running electric buses is not only beneficial for the environment, it also supports connectivity she said, and positions Summit County as a pacesetter and an example.
“Let’s do the electric slide!” she said.