Location: Racine, WI

Fleet Type: Transit Electric Buses

 

Narrative

Reliable public transportation is essential for communities as it promotes accessibility, sustainability, and economic development. The City of Racine, Wisconsin realized as ridership continued to increase post-pandemic that it needed to focus on innovative technologies to improve this vital service. The work of this modernization was done through collaboration with federal, state, local, and non-governmental entities partnering to ensure Racine would continue to provide this vital service to workers, businesses, and those who depend on this service for access to education and care. “RYDE Racine” serves as the public transportation system for Eastern Racine County. This comprehensive system boasts an extensive network of nearly 700 stops spanning from the shores of Lake Michigan to the western fringes of Interstate 94.

RYDE Racine, Racine’s public transit system, deployed nine electric buses in 2022.  Funding received through the Wisconsin Volkswagen Transit Capital Assistance Program and the U.S. Department of Transportation FTA Program provided assistance to purchase these electric buses.  On a single charge, the Proterra buses travel 175 miles, which is adequate for current routes; allowing the buses to charge at night when lower power costs are available due to decreased electricity demand.  

In an effort to continue this transportation transformation, Racine secured an additional award of $3.8M through the U.S. DOT Federal Transit Authority, to purchase four additional all-electric buses. These additional buses will bring RYDE Racine’s transit fleet of 35 to13 electric buses, resulting in nearly 40% of the system’s fixed route being zero-emission. 

Outputs and Outcomes

 

RYDE Racine has the largest electric bus fleet percentage in the Badger State. The City of Racine secured over $15M to replace diesel buses that had been in the service for over 12 years and traveled over 500,000 miles.  RYDE Racine has prioritized quality service, savings, and improved sustainability.  The zero-emission buses continue to build on the progress to achieve Racine’s goal of carbon neutrality.  The city reports 6,340 gallons of fuel is displaced per year, per bus through the deployment of the electric buses.  The city projects when all 13 buses are in service, this will equate to a decrease in fuel use of over 82,420 gallons annually and a reduction of 922 tons of greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis. The City also expects additional savings in reduced maintenance costs as well with EV buses having on average 30% fewer parts.  These significant reductions are only the beginning for the City of Racine.  Additionally, Racine will be the first city in Wisconsin to charge its electric fleet in part with the power of the sun. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the City of Racine will build a $2.6M solar array at RYDE Racine’s transit garage, producing 350,000 kWh of energy per year, equivalent to powering five of the electric transit buses annually.  The solar installation alone will save the City $76,000 per year in energy costs and will reduce RYDE Racine’s carbon footprint by 250 metric tons of carbon annually.  

The City of Racine will continue this work to ensure that residents enjoy the RYDE!

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

  • Getting started is the first step.
  • Support from City officials is pivotal to success.   
  • Include staff in the mission – Training, Training, Training.
    • Racine secured grant funds for a field service technician to be on-site for the first year.
    • The bus manufacturer provided ½ day seminars and training to staff.
  • Be patient and anticipate supply chain issues.
  • Anticipate range issues and be prepared.
    • Battery degradation can be significant in Wisconsin winters.
  • Have plans for a contingency fleet in place.
    • Replaced diesel buses were kept in the fleet for a few months, as electric buses were deployed.
  • Provide community education and outreach. Passengers love the new buses

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City of Racine Fleet Story

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