As part of an effort to improve the region’s air quality, The Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) is committed to transitioning to zero-emission buses by 2045.

According to PRT officials, starting in 2025, the agency will slowly acquire electric and alternative-fueled buses every year as older vehicles become obsolete and age out. 

PRT CEO Katharine Kelleman says the PRT will replace its diesel buses over the next 12 years with “clean vehicles.” The Allegheny County transit authority owns six electric-powered buses and has ordered 15 more. 

Although the goal is to have a bus fleet powered by electricity and alternative fuels (such as hydrogen), PRT is, in fact, still buying diesel fuel buses while Duquesne Light Co. retrofits the bus garages with the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles. 

“The biggest challenge will be developing the required infrastructure to support the transition,” says PRT Chief Development Officer David Huffaker. “We have several operating and maintenance facilities that support our transit network, and we will need to ensure they are equipped to handle this change.”

Kelleman says that while new diesel buses are priced at almost $800,0000, new electric buses cost roughly $1 million; however, she expects PRT to cover the cost with lower fuel expenses. PRT will spend about $1 billion in the next 20 years to get to a zero-emissions bus fleet with federal funding helping to defray the cost of new vehicles, employee training and charging infrastructure. 

“We recognize our responsibility to move as quickly as possible to replace our fleet with zero-emissions vehicles to improve the health, safety and welfare of the communities we serve,” Kelleman said in a statement. “This investment in our system touches upon so many of the values that will propel our region toward a more equitable and sustainable future.”

Pittsburgh has worked aggressively over the last few years and created initiatives such as the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0, which is aimed at slashing carbon emissions in half within the city limits by 2030.