'Going Green' costs state some green

'Going Green' costs state some green

Has anyone noticed that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) bought new buses for 2013 and they did not spend the extra money on the hybrid buses that our General Assembly lobbied successfully to get in 2010? I thought those buses were not only supposed to be more environmentally friendly, but also save Rhode Island thousands of dollars on fuel costs.

First, I tried contacting RIPTA directly to see if they would shed some light on their decision to buy the diesel buses in 2013 as opposed to the hybrids in 2010. Unfortunately, they felt I was asking too many questions and decided to pretend they didn't know any of the answers. I dug a little deeper into the topic and here are the answers I discovered:

* The diesel buses cost $450,000 each while the hybrid buses cost $650,000. Each hybrid gets approximately 6 miles per gallon while the diesel buses get 4.5 miles per gallon. At that rate the buses would need to drive almost 1,000,000 miles to break even in cost. Based on a study done by the State of Washington, which also uses Gillig buses for their public transportation, they estimate the fuel savings is approximately $134,000 for the life of each bus. So why is Rhode Island spending $66,000 extra on each of 53 buses when we continually need to raise taxes to cover shortfalls in our budget? That $3.5 million could have been better served to help small businesses or reduce the tax burden Rhode Islanders feel.

I find it comical that our General Assembly got these wasteful buses that haven't proven to be significantly better with emissions and that cost Rhode Island $3.5 million we don't have.

Matthew A. Guerra


Guerra was a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in 2012.