Environmental groups ask for plans after controversial city bus vote
A rare tie-breaking vote cast by Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles ensures the city will not hit its goal of having an all-electric fleet by 2030.
After a deadlocked 5-5 vote on Feb. 13, Lyles broke the tie to authorize the purchase of 30 new Charlotte Area Transit Authority buses. Of the 30 buses, 15 will be diesel-electric and 15 will be all-electric.
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“I’ll vote for the cooperative purchasing contract for hybrid electric buses, and we will move on,” Mayor Lyles said as she cast the vote.
Interim CATS director Brent Cagle told the Charlotte City Council that the city doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to support a full-electric purchase. The buses will have to be used for at least 12 years, which means the city won’t hit its goal of having an all-electric fleet by 2030.
When the underground bus station opens, some of the buses below ground will still rely on fuel in some capacity.
On Thursday night, environmental leaders sent a letter to city leaders asking for plans to transition the CATS fleet to zero carbon and ensure the air quality in the underground station is as good or better than the fresh air at the light rail station.
“Transitioning to a CATS zero-carbon fleet as soon as operationally feasible and investing in good air quality at the (Charlotte Transit Center) will set Charlotte on the path to being a leader in climate justice and health equity among U.S. cities,” the letter stated.
Cagle was unavailable to comment on the letter, according to a spokesperson. A city of Charlotte spokesperson directed Channel 9 to CATS.
On Monday, the Charlotte City Council will vote on a Memorandum of Understanding for the new transit center.
Charlotte City Council, 600 East Fourth St., Charlotte
February 23, 2023
Dear Council Members and Staff,
Based on the February 13, 2023, City Council vote to authorize the purchase of 15 diesel-electric hybrid buses and 15 battery-electric buses, we, the undersigned members of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Climate Leaders coalition, respectfully request that CATS and the City of Charlotte commit to the following before purchasing additional diesel-burning vehicles:
1. By the end of 2023, create and share with the public a plan to transition the CATS fleet to zero-carbon vehicles.
2. A plan for the development and maintenance of the future underground Charlotte Transportation Center (CTC) that ensures bus riders and operators breathe air that consistently meets or exceeds federal standards for indoor air quality and is as good or better than the air quality at the light rail station two stories above.
Transitioning to a CATS zero carbon fleet as soon as operationally feasible and investing in good air quality at the CTC will set Charlotte on the path to being a leader in climate justice and health equity among U.S. cities.
Shannon Binns, Sustain Charlotte
Rev. Amy Brooks Paradise, Greenfaith
Jeffrey W. Robbins, CleanAireNC
Jerome Wagner, 350 Charlotte
Terry Landsell, BikeWalkNC
June Blotnick, GreenFaithCircle, Unitarian Universalist Community of Charlotte
Jennifer Watson Roberts, Former Mayor of Charlotte
Nancy Keziah, United Methodist Church
John Gaertner, John Gaertner Consulting
Christy & Dean Kluesner, Citizen’s Climate Lobby
Tina Katsanos, Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP
VIDEO: Charlotte to spend $28 million for new buses