Three sets of blue pads on Church street mark the spot for the new inductive bus chargers at the Vineyard Transit Authority stop in Edgartown.
“It’s night and day, aesthetically, functionally,” Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty said. “It’s a lot better than it was a year ago.”
The $2 million project, which broke ground in January and wrapped up in the middle of June, is part of a broader goal to fully electrify the VTA bus fleet by 2028, VTA administrator Angie Gompert the Gazette in an interview at the station. Half of the buses are electric and now they can charge up while they idle in Edgartown, no plug-in required.
“It’s a wireless charger, just like you put your phone on one of those pads on your desk. It’s the same idea, same exact concept,” Ms. Gombert said.
Buses can charge up while they idle in Edgartown, no plug-in required. — Ray Ewing
A Regional Transit Authority capital assistance program covered half of the cost of the project while a clean energy grant from the Federal Transit Administration paid for the rest. Originally approved at town meeting in 2019, the project was delayed due to objects from neighbors who said it would add a significant amount of traffic and noise to the already-busy downtown area.
Church street was widened to relieve congestion and electric buses are far less noisy, and noxious than their diesel counterparts, Ms. Gombert said.
“It’s quieter than an air conditioner and it’s a billion per cent quieter than a diesel bus,” Ms. Gompert said of the electric buses.
While the chargers themselves are hardly noticeable, the work it took to get them there was not, Ms. Gombert said. The project involved digging up a significant portion of the street and redirecting bus traffic.
“Doing a project like this in an area like this is just super challenging,” Ms. Gombert said. “But we squeezed it in the time-frame that we could squeeze it.”
Even though it was cumbersome, the excavation allowed for an overdue update to the landscaping and patio around the bus stop, Ms. Gombert said. New benches, overhead fixtures, down-lighting and a fresh coat of paint for the visitors center are all part of the revamped station.
“It was a good opportunity to beautify the spot after we dug it up,” Ms. Gombert said. “It let us do some things that we desperately needed to do for our customers and people visiting town.”
Functionally the project is finished, but there are still some minor touch-ups to be completed after the summer, Ms. Gombert said. Another bench, a new fence and landscaping will all be finished in the fall.
“We still have a few little housekeeping things to clean up,” Ms. Gombert said.