Proposal to modernize MCTS bus fleet could save county $27 million

MILWAUKEE – A report on the Milwaukee County Transit System’s (MCTS) planned transition to battery electric buses (BEBs) concluded that the county could save $27 million and dramatically reduce harmful emissions by 2040 if the fleet modernization project proposed by County Board of Supervisors Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr. proceeds at an aggressive pace.

“This report confirms what I said when I first proposed modernizing Milwaukee County’s transit system for the renewable energy future: Electrification of our bus fleet will save county taxpayers millions of dollars and reduce harmful emissions,” said Lipscomb.

Lipscomb proposed modernizing Milwaukee County’s transit system by converting to battery-electric buses and the necessary infrastructure with amendments to the 2019 and 2020 county budgets.

The established policy called for beginning the transition to an all-electric fleet with an initial purchase of up to 15 battery-electric buses, primarily for use on the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route which is scheduled to begin service in 2021.

The report, from the Director of the Department of Transportation, recommends that nine electric buses could be used daily on the BRT route, with six available for existing MCTS routes.

The report projected annual cost savings of $1.7 million annually between 2025 and 2040, or $27 million total, if the county invests $10 million a year in converting to a fully electric fleet.

The report also found that electrification of the MCTS fleet would dramatically reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, leading to better local air quality and a reduction in the negative health effects associated with diesel exhaust.

With the recent award of a $1.7 million “low-no” emissions federal grant for the purchase of BEBs, the county currently has $6,816,000 set aside for the project.

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