WFAE -- The Charlotte Area Transit System is tapping the brakes on plans to convert to 100% electric buses by 2030. And the slowdown is raising concerns among council members and environmentalists that Charlotte might not be able to meet the city's climate goals.
The Charlotte City Council on Monday approved CATS' plan to buy a mix of diesel-electric hybrid buses and electric buses next year — and possibly in future years. Mayor Vi Lyles cast the deciding vote when the 10 members present at the meeting deadlocked 5-5 on the plan.
The vote reverses previous plans to convert CATS' entire fleet to electric buses as older buses are retired. It also threatens the city's ability to meet its goal of switching its vehicles to a 100% electric fleet by 2030. CATS interim CEO Brent Cagle told City Council members the city lacks the charging stations and other infrastructure to continue a full rollout of electric buses.
Shannon Binns, the executive director of Sustain Charlotte, said Wednesday he's "deeply concerned" about the vote.
"This decision will make it impossible to reach the city’s adopted goal of a zero-carbon fleet by 2030. Moreover, with the recent decision by council to rebuild our main bus terminal in uptown underground, we worry about the health of bus riders and operators who will be breathing diesel fumes when these buses enter the enclosed terminal," he said.
He called on the council to rescind the decision and instead study what's needed to complete the transition to a fully electric bus fleet by 2030.