ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — In a unanimous vote, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board of directors approved an $80 million investment to replace their buses with all-electric vehicles over the next five years.

Officials say the PSTA voted to buy 60 electric buses in their “ongoing mission to transform the fleet” to be “clean and green” by 2050. The electric buses will operate systemwide in Pinellas, and the first 60 buses from the purchase will be in use in 2024, according to PSTA.

“PSTA is determined to deliver on the promise of a zero-emissions fleet by 2050,” Chief Executive Officer Brad Miller said. “Last month, the Biden administration signed into law the largest investment public transit has realized in US history to improve transportation options and reduce greenhouse emissions for millions of Americans. PSTA is leading the way for our region to meet our green goal.” 

Buses can be charged in three fashions as part of the switch from diesel fuel to electricity. The new electric fleet can charge overnight, recharge with regenerative braking, and visit on-route charging stations according to PSTA.

The company said energy consumption at their facilities has been reduced by 35% since 2015, when they began implementing new energy efficiency measures.

Each bus battery will average 200 miles of travel or 14 hours of driving on a single charge. Officials say it’ll save PSTA $20,000 a year in diesel fuel costs with each electric bus.

Pinellas County is on board with the change to electric as well.

“Pinellas County is pleased to support PSTA’s transition to zero-emissions buses by modernizing the fleet over the next five years,” said Pat Gerard, Chair of PSTA’s Board of Directors. “Through this electric vehicle investment, we are ensuring that Pinellas County residents benefit from cleaner air as we move toward a more sustainable, carbon-free energy system.”

The buses will not only cost less to operate, but they’ll be easier to maintain and will reduce carbon emissions by 135 tons per year by giving public transit services as an alternative to passengers driving their own cars, according to PSTA.

The removal of diesel exhaust emissions is also expected to help improve community air quality. Currently, PSTA says they operate the largest hybrid bus fleet in Florida, with almost 100 buses.