AppalCart introduces first electric bus to transportation fleet


Tyler Bishop

The new electric bus, unveiled Sept. 28, 2022.

Hollie Moore, Associate News Editor

AppalCart introduced their first electric bus to their 28 bus fleet Wednesday. 

The new bus is expected to service the red route. Craig Hughes, director of AppalCart, said bus drivers will receive training in the beginning of October. 

Hughes said the North Carolina Volkswagen Settlement Grant awarded “well over a million dollars for the purchase of the bus and the charging station.”

The North Carolina Volkswagen Settlement Grant is made “on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” the North Carolina Environmental Quality website mentions.

An inside look at the new 35 foot Proterra bus, which includes a DuoPower drivetrain to give additional horsepower for steep hills and large passenger loads. The EB-40 will follow the red route and seats up to 27 passengers with additional room to stand. (Tyler Bishop)

The website said their programs hope to have school bus replacement, transit bus replacement, cleaning heavy-duty on-road and off-road equipment and zero emission vehicle infrastructure. 

AppalCart had a trial run for a doubledecker bus Sept.- Oct. 2021, but in contrast, the electric bus will be a permanent fixture in the AppalCart fleet.

Hughes said the order for the bus was placed in June 2021, expected to be delivered in April, but due to “supply chain issues,” the bus was delivered this week. 

The Volkswagen Settlement they applied for was rewarded in February 2021. Hughes said. 

Hughes said a small amount of money was “kicked in locally” due to the charger installation being slightly more than expected along with a “few little things on the bus” that weren’t in the original cost estimate when putting the grant together. 

“But you know, considering the little bitty amount of local match compared to the million dollars we’re getting in state grant, that’s pretty good,” Hughes said. 

App State has set goals to decarbonize the university in the “transportation sector,” partnering with the Town of Boone to be carbon-free by 2050

Appalcart director Craig Hughes gazes over at the new electric bus that was unveiled this past Wednesday, Sept 28th. EB-40 is first of its kind in the High Country but certainly not the last, it is projected to have a range of 175-242 miles. (Tyler Bishop)

Lee Ball, App State’s chief sustainability officer, said App State’s Office of Sustainability did a lot of the writing for the grant, helped with the budget and worked really closely with Hughes on “getting it out the door.” 

Ball said even though AppalCart isn’t technically part of the university, it still “very much serves the university and majority of the riders are students,” so he wanted to help.

“The exciting thing for me is that the will is there,” Ball said. “You could talk to other transit directors and they may be like ‘Yeah, I’m not interested’ and so the fact that the will is there, I mean that’s more than half the battle.”