Pinellas invests in pilot program for fully-electric buses

- Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority commissioners voted to buy two electric buses Wednesday, beginning a pilot program for the technology in the county.

The two buses cost about $800,000, double the diesel versions, which caused some controversy among the 5 commissioners that voted against the measure.

Commissioner Brian Scott could not support the extra spending, although the measure ultimately passed 9-5.

Scott specifically referenced the Tampa Bay Times investigation revealing crippling limitations on the transit systems in both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. He said adding more buses would help solve that problem, and buying electric means fewer buses on the streets.

"We need to put more service on the street not less service and by spending this kind of money it doesn't further that goal," said Scott.

PSTA CEO Brad Miller says the electric buses will help pay for themselves with the gas savings over time. He also thinks the innovation will help convince the public they should invest in transportation.

"I think we've made a lot of progress in the last couple years in doing these innovative things to show people that we're a valuable part of the community," said Miller.

The buses will debut within the next year.

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