On a day when poor air quality almost totally obscured the foothills in the background, the city of Arvin debuted its new electric bus system it hopes will be a first step toward a greener future.
“We’re going to do what we can as a city to improve the air quality,” said Mayor Jose Gurrola at a press conference Friday morning. “Hopefully Arvin can continue to be a leader in renewable energy and electrifying our fleet. And hopefully other agencies follow.”
Earlier this week, Arvin announced it had received a $2.3 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority to purchase three electric buses along with charging station infrastructure.
To celebrate the event, the city showed off a model of its new fleet of electric buses, which should arrive in Arvin by September of next year.
The company Proterra sold the buses to the city, and drove the model from Napa Valley to the city as part of a cross-country promotional tour.
The bus, which proudly displayed a “Made in America” sign on Friday, has a range of 251 miles per charge, with zero air emissions.
Arvin hopes to completely transform its bus fleet into an all-electric force by 2025.
“All we need to do is look up at the sky to see that climate change is here, and we must act quickly to reduce air emissions,” said Christine Viterelli, Arvin’s grant writer. “Our rural city is just one of many struggling to reduce greenhouse gases, and we hope Arvin’s award will be a catalyst for other rural communities to pursue the transformation of (their) fleets.”
In addition to transforming its bus system, the city hopes to build more sidewalks and bike paths, and plant trees throughout the community to curb emissions.
It will also encourage non-motorized transportation of its residents.
“Today is a new day for Arvin,” said Arvin Transportation Manager Hesham Elshazly. “Now we can improve our lives here and improve the air pollution we have.”
City officials said Arvin was the only city in California to receive a grant from the Federal Transit Authority.
The Environmental Protection Agency reported that transportation in the United States causes 28.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, the single largest cause it identified.
By switching to alternative fuel sources besides petroleum, the agency said greenhouse gases could be reduced.