Lancaster-made electric transit bus unveiled


It's the first fully electric mass-transit bus ever made in America, and it is one of two such buses expected to hit the streets of Lancaster in August.

Governor Jerry Brown was on hand Monday to celebrate the rolling out of the buses, which were made in Lancaster at BYD, a China-based technology company that opened its first plant in America in Lancaster last year.

"The only way we are going to reduce our dependency on oil and make our air even more healthful and deal with climate change is to shift to electric vehicles," said Brown. "I just want to commend BYD for building such a dream right here in California."

The company has confirmed orders for 25 electric buses throughout Los Angeles County and other orders coming in to sell buses all over the country.

"First of all, it's going to change the world," said Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris. "Think about the thousands and thousands and thousands, if not millions, of buses out there that in 10 years are all going to be electric."

Mass transit officials in Lancaster say current buses on the street cost more than 400,000 and the electric buses cost twice as much, but they say they are investing in the future.

"We are very excited about this new technology, especially these batteries. They go 155 miles without charging," said Julie Austin, executive director of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.

Antelope Valley Transit officials say with no expensive gas or oil to worry about and less maintenance, the buses will eventually save money.

With a persistent double-digit unemployment rate in Lancaster, BYD employees are glad to be working.

"Over 60 people are working in the BYD plant in Lancaster today. It will go up to a 100 by the end of the year. Next year, another 100, so it will be 200," said L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

Lancaster officials say while several BYD electric buses made in China are in service in the United States, the city takes great pride in saying "Made in America" on the buses being built at the local plant.

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