GPTC's new electric buses could help address environmental justice concerns
The Gary Public Transportation Corporation's fleet of electric buses officially entered service Wednesday. The four 35-foot GILLIG buses cost a total of almost $3.6 million, with $800,000 of that coming from the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund. They'll run on the Broadway Metro Express route, serving Gary, Merrillville and Crown Point.
During Wednesday's unveiling ceremony, Drive Clean Indiana Executive Director Carl Lisek said it's only the second deployment of electric transit buses in the state. "This project will reduce CO2 emissions by 100 percent, as well as PM2.5 by 57 percent," Lisek added.
The new buses can also help address environmental justice concerns. Shawn Seals with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said Gary and the Region have often struggled to meet federal air quality standards.
"The city of Gary has a lot of areas with sensitive populations that carry a disproportionate burden, when it comes to air quality in the Region," Seals explained. "These buses are intended to operate on that Broadway corridor where many of these neighborhoods exist."
GPTC Interim General Manager Denise Comer Dillard noted that the agency is starting to make progress in addressing the Region's need for connectivity. "We are now seeing that our communities are all on one page," Comer Dillard said. "We need to be connected. There are destinations throughout the Region that are exciting places to encourage people to take advantage of."
GPTC expects to save up to $120,000 a year, thanks to the electric buses.