LTD has 11 electric buses in its fleet, and is adding another 19. The Xcelsior battery-electric 40-foot heavy-duty transit buses are from one of the world’s leading bus manufacturers.

Emptying out the notebook … 

Last week I wrote about the visceral reaction I had to driving an e-car for the first time, and likened it to previous experiences around race cars.

While I made a passing reference to the environmental impact of battery-powered vehicles, Lane County Transit District leaders are making a significant commitment with a variety of sustainability initiatives and projects.

LTD already has 11 electric buses, with another 19 on the way. Thirty electric buses would be a significant portion of its fleet, and when you consider the removal of 30 diesel buses’ exhaust through the course of a year it adds up quickly.

LTD’s board has done its homework, funding multiple studies around efficient, clean, and affordable public transportation. Frequency is important. Ridership levels are critical. 

Already, the benefits of current ridership levels result in more than two times the impact of the emissions from LTD’s fleet, according to Kelly Hoell, sustainability coordinator at LTD.

There are other benefits, too. Not only are there 30 fewer diesel engines in those buses, but the simplicity of the electric motor means much lower maintenance costs over its lifespan. Those dollars add up, too. 

In June 2020, LTD’s board passed Climate Action Policy and Fleet Procurement Goals; it has invested in diesel electric-hybrid buses since the mid-2000s that currently make up approximately 60% of its fleet; and LTD is using R99 renewable diesel fuel. 

E-vehicles are not the miracle cure – not yet, anyway. I erroneously wrote that a single charge in the Tesla model I drove would last 800 miles. Not even close. The actual distance is around 350 miles. And no doubt in these early days, the cost of these vehicles is prohibitive for most consumers, not to mention a scarcity of charging stations.

Among the agenda items on its Thursday, April 15 meeting from noon-2 p.m. is “heavy-duty bus procurements.” The agenda item states: “The average age of LTD’s active fleet is over 10 years old, with over 40% exceeding the 12-year minimum useful life threshold. LTD is looking to add new zero-emission buses to reduce the costs of operating and maintaining older vehicles ... Over the next three years, LTD plans to purchase around 40 buses to address our aging fleet.”

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Elizabeth Groening has joined The Chronicle’s team for a 10-week journalism internship. The 23-year-old native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, earned her bachelor’s degree at Texas Tech University and moved to the southern Willamette Valley to work on a master’s degree at the University of Oregon. 

“Unfortunately, the coronavirus has resulted in remote classes for the most part,” she said, “and I really wanted the experience of socializing with others on campus.” 

Groening has written for college papers and independent publications in Texas, and writes for UO’s Daily Emerald. She’ll be reporting and writing for The Chronicle, as well as taking on other assignments for a full print-and-digital news experience. 

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The City Wide Yard Sale is roaring back this year through a partnership between the City and The Chronicle. Residents who register with City Hall – by calling, texting, visiting its website or in person – will have their yard sale location published in The Chronicle’s color map and receive a custom yard sale sign from the newspaper. 

Yard sales are a staple of community life, and we’re receiving plenty of notices each weekend for our Classifieds section, too. Creswell has a well-deserved reputation for its annual Mother’s Day weekend sale, and we are thrilled to help support it. 

Chronicle co-owner Denise Nash has hand-painted the yard signs this year, customizing them with floral images and clear wording buyers can see from their cars. 

Let’s fill up the map – and the lawns in our neighborhoods – and have a great time.

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Opportunities abound for residents to get involved in local government and education. School boards, planning commissions, city council meetings, budget committees and many more groups are gathering online and in person. They are making decisions about your life, in your town, on your street. The Chronicle launched a bi-weekly page dedicated to hyper-local government in our communities. Our goal is to help residents be informed and aware, and provide solution-oriented coverage of the issues impacting their lives.

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Everyone who works out of The Chronicle offices has at least one shot of the vaccine. It’s encouraging to hear so many other people – in person and posting on social media – are receiving them. My colleague Ron Hartman received his this past Saturday – when the U.S. administered a one-day record 4.6 million vaccine shots.

Noel Nash is publisher of The Chronicle.