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JEFFERSON CITY – Jefferson City's 12 public buses are getting old.

“A number of our buses are getting up in years,” said Transit Division Director Mark Mehmert. “2005 and 2006 models, around 300,000 plus miles so it’s beginning to get to the point where we have to start looking at the replacements.”

So the city is looking at some different options to replace the aging fleet, and that includes switching to electric buses.

Mehmert said they looked at data from other cities and considered the benefits that came with electric buses.

“We’ve been to trade shows and we’ve seen some of the technology,” Mehmert said. “And our neighbor to the north in Columbia has invested in some of that technology and we’re anxious to see how that works out for them and we’re happy to be able to learn from their experience.”

Columbia has been using electric buses for more than a year and tested them on multiple routes before ultimately deciding to go with them.

Columbia Transit and Parking Manager Drew Brooks said one of the benefits of using electric buses is the cost.

“Where we’re seeing the predominate savings is in maintenance costs,” he said.

Brooks said routine 12,000 mile services on diesel buses would cost about $1200 to perform, compared to the $300 it costs to maintain electric buses.

However, there are some downsides.

“On a cold or a very hot day, we’ll see about a one percent per hour reduction in the charge of the battery,” Brooks said. “So on those days, we’ll have to drive them a little differently, maybe put them on different shifts.”

Mehmert said the division will be testing an electric bus before making any proposals.  

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