Tour company rolls out state’s first commercial fleet of electric buses

JTB Hawaii involved keiki in the design of its electric buses.
JTB Hawaii involved keiki in the design of its electric buses.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Mar. 8, 2019 at 5:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One the state’s largest tour companies ― JTB Hawaii ― is rolling out the state’s first commercial fleet of electric buses.

The three buses can go more than 200 miles on a three and a half hour charge.

JTB Hawaii says the new buses aren’t about saving money.

“We have to do that because of the environment and a sustainable tourism industry,” said CEO Keith Kitagawa.

JTB says customers ― and everyone else ― will appreciate quiet and emissions-free buses.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell was there for the blessing and acknowledged the city should move faster in getting its own electric buses.

“Here’s the frustrating thing, JTB has started. They have the first three, the first electric buses in the state of Hawaii and on Oahu. We need to do our part in the City and County,” said Caldwell.

The city plans to eventually have 550 electric buses and convert all city vehicles to electric by 2035.

Caldwell says electric buses more than make up for their higher front-end cost by being more than 60 percent cheaper to power and maintain.

“They save money on fuel. They save money on maintenance in the long run. It’s actually a benefit for business as well,” said Lauren Reichert, of Blue Planet Foundation.

They can also solve another big problem of too much solar power. The electric company wants to call on electric vehicle fleets when there is too much sun and too little demand for the electricity.

“We could, for example, send out a text to all our electric vehicle owners and say you charge now there is a 20 percent discount help absorb some of the solar that’s on our system,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric Company CEO.

Experts say ground transportation consumes 30 percent of the fossil fuel burned in Hawaii and is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

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