City buys 4 electric buses, 10 chargers

Altogether the purchase will cost the city more than $5.7 million.|

The city of Petaluma authorized the purchase of four battery-electric buses and 10 ChargePoint electric chargers – its first such purchases – during a recent City Council meeting.

The two consent calendar agenda items, one for the buses and another for the chargers, both passed unanimously at the Jan. 22 meeting.

The four buses, two 35 feet long and two 40 feet long, will each have 545-kilowatt batteries with an 180-mile operating range, seat 35 passengers, and accommodate about 50 passengers at full capacity, according to a staff report. They will replace four 2007 internal combustion engine buses.

The cost for all four buses is $4.69 million plus an additional $145,000 for bus build inspections, exterior bus wraps and contingencies, bringing the total to $4.84 million.

They are expected to be delivered in February of next year following an estimated 14-month build, according to the report.

Manufactured by New Flyer Industries, they will replace buses that are considered obsolete and will be the city’s first battery-electric transit buses, according to a staff report.

A number of Bay Area transit agencies have operated buses from the same XE bus line and have a proven track record of “efficient performance and reliability,” according to a city staff report.

In a separate but related item, the city passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of 10 ChargePoint Express Plus battery-electric chargers that are anticipated to cost over $876,000, according to a staff report.

The city has a contract with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to commit to purchasing and using 20 buses and paratransit vans, and install 10 dual port chargers, by 2027 to receive infrastructure upgrades and incentives, according to the report.

PG&E will build, own and maintain “to-the-meter” infrastructure that spans from the utility lines to the meter, while the city will maintain “behind-the-meter” or charging infrastructure. This includes $600,000 in incentives and rebates for the city’s installation of such charging infrastructure.

Half of the charging equipment is anticipated to be installed in late 2024, and would provide enough equipment to charge 10 buses simultaneously. The second phase of installation, which would then allow for 10 more vehicles to be charged, will be contingent on the city securing funds, according to the report.

The bus and electric charger purchases would support a City Council goal to move the city’s transit fleet from fossil-fuel-based to renewable and/or electric vehicles and help the city reach carbon neutrality by 2030, according to staff reports.

Though momentum to switch to clean energy has grown nationwide, in the last few years ChargePoint stocks have plummeted, having reached a low on Jan. 18, months after the company’s chief executive officer left in November. While the city’s bus chargers will not be publicly available, the company’s public chargers, along with others in the industry, are often unreliable, as reported by the Los Angeles Times last week.

In a written public comment, one member of the public pointed out that New Flyer ended 2023 with a manufacturing backlog on 10,500 units, with demand expected to grow in the first quarter of 2024, according to a news release by the company. It is unclear whether the city’s buses and delivery would be impacted by this backlog.

During the public comment portion, one speaker brought notice to the chargers and encouraged City Council members to consider future discussion on the software’s impact on design and operation of such assets critical to the city’s transit needs.

You can reach Staff Writer Jennifer Sawhney at 707-521-5346 or On X (Twitter) @sawhney_media.

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