Porterville, California, is at the halfway point between Fresno and Bakersfield and located in the San Joaquin valley. This means, of course, it’s well over three hours away from San Francisco and Los Angeles. What’s notable about this smaller city is that despite being relatively far away from the state’s biggest cities, it’s one of the most polluted metropolitans in all of the United States. Pollution impacts the area so severely, in fact, community members fear for their health. Now, a Canadian electric bus manufacturer is hoping to help generate some much-needed clean air in Porterville.
GreenPower Motor Company started building a manufacturing plant in Porterville and has immediate plans to build a fleet of 10 zero-emission buses. According to the company’s press release, this “will likely create roughly 75 jobs right away.” Over the next decade, the new plant could create nearly 600 jobs related to construction, driving, and more.
Much of the San Joaquin valley suffers from very poor air quality. Sadly, that pollution has led to sickness and early deaths. For example, a number of workers noted that they struggle with throat problems in a feature from The Guardian last year. Where does it all come from? All of the farming, drilling, traffic from Interstate 5, and wind that blows into the area are the likely sources. Based on its layout, particles hover in the area to create hazy skies.
Even worse, the community has been dealing with poverty for a long time. Despite the valley being rich in agriculture and being tagged as “America’s Salad Bowl,” many jobs have folded up over the years. This has led to people not being able to afford health insurance and hospital bills. The Fresno Bee explains that “one in six children in the San Joaquin Valley has asthma.”
To help with these issues, GreenPower is hoping to create a stable of electric buses to eliminate pollution and aid those in poverty. This will bring easy transportation for those traveling to work and kids going to school. In one charge, most buses are able to get at least 175 miles of range with a Siemens-manufactured motor.
There’s a large variety of all-electric buses created by GreenPower. One of the newest and most extensive models is the EV550, a 45-foot double decker bus. It can seat a whopping 100 passengers and there’s ample space for standing room. When compared to other electric buses, this version has massive statistics of a battery size greater than 478 kilowatt-hours and it can travel over 240 miles.
Don’t expect these double-decker buses to be part of the initial batch. Part of the original announcement back in April noted that the initial fleet would be 10 EV350 buses that are 40-feet long. The infrastructure would include 11 charging stations for the buses to stop at. One bus will make its premiere in the fall while the rest of the group is expected to pop up during the winter. All in all, the investment is at $9 million.
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