Alexandria’s DASH adds electric buses to fleet

If you’re waiting for a DASH bus in Alexandria, Virginia, you might not hear that familiar loud groan approaching the stop. That’s because your bus might be sporting a quiet electric motor.

On Monday, the city’s DASH bus system unveiled new zero-emission electric buses, a first for the transit system that has used diesel and hybrid engines.

The six buses are the first in the fleet that plans to switch to 100% sustainable zero-emission buses by 2035.

The six buses and rapid-charging stations were purchased after DASH received $5.1 million from Virginia through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, part of the commonwealth’s settlement after the German company violated the Clean Air Act.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam joined city and transit leadership in the unveiling of the buses. The very soft hum of the electric engines could barely be heard in the background.

“The electric motor will provide a quieter ride for our passengers. This will result in a better transit system to help all of us breathe easier,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.

The quiet ride is not the only benefit that DASH touted. The move will also cut down on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, an important step for Alexandria as it strives to be an Eco-City.

“These buses are truly groundbreaking … by operating completely on electric power, without burning any fossil fuels, these vehicles will cut down on hundreds of tons of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions that are generated on Alexandria streets,” Wilson said.

According to DASH’s transit development plan, the six buses will replace the oldest in the fleet — diesel buses that have been in service since 2002.

The fleet will now comprise the electric buses, clean diesel buses that were bought in 2018 and 2019, and hybrid buses that have been in use for most of the last decade.

DASH plans to add eight more electric buses next year.

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