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Wilsonville's transit system awarded $1.45 million for two zero emission, electric buses

The Wilsonville transit system serves 23,000 residents and all rides within city limits are free. (Proterra)

The third time was indeed the charm for the city of Wilsonville’s transit system.

After two unsuccessful attempts to get a federal grant to purchase electric, zero emission motor coaches, the agency was awarded $1.45 million to purchase two new buses in September.

“This round there were close to 200 applicants,” said SMART transit director, Dwight Brashear. “We were one of 51 and the only one in the state this round to receive funding. But we never gave up.”

The two 35-foot motor coaches will carry about 42 passengers and have a range of anywhere from 150 to 200 miles on a single charge.

“Of course that varies in the summer and the winter depending on the use of the heater and the air conditioner,” Brashear said.

The city's ultimate goal is to have an entire zero emission fleet.

In a joint statement, Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley called the grant “an example of the kinds of federal investments in local communities that helps to improve mobility, livability and our environment.”

Brashear says the Proterra electric buses were chosen after much research because of their solid reputation.

“That's what we were looking for bringing something into the Willamette Valley that would really really pop when people see it out on the streets,” he said

The Wilsonville transit system serves 23,000 residents and all rides within city limits are free.

The system also runs an express service to Salem and connects riders with TriMet on the WES train which runs from Wilsonville to Beaverton.

The city expects the new buses to be running in 2019.

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