On Friday, President Biden gave a speech to the US Conference of Mayors at the White House, which included an unexpected pat on the back to Madison for the city's efforts to improve the climate and public health with the purchase of 46 electric buses. (See link to the video below.)
"I am delighted that the President recognized Madison as a national leader on climate action and reducing harmful greenhouse gases. We couldn't do it without the strong partnership of the White House and the federal Department of Transportation," said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.
Madison's planned bus rapid transit (BRT) system will be fully electric. The City placed an order for the zero emission buses in the summer of 2022. They are expected to begin arriving summer of 2023, while BRT will launch in 2024.
With each of Metro’s current buses using approximately 5,000 gallons of diesel each year, electric buses are expected to conserve nearly a quarter million gallons of fuel annually. Without diesel engines, transmissions, intakes or exhaust systems, electric vehicles can also save up to $125,000 in maintenance costs per vehicle during the lifetime of the bus.
Converting Metro’s fleet to electric is one of the most important things the City can do to take climate action. Transportation is responsible for about 40% of Madison's greenhouse gas emissions and diesel exhaust is a significant contributor to childhood asthma and other health conditions.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway attended the US Conference of Mayors this week. She also took the gavel as the national Chair of US Climate Mayors, a group of over 500 Mayors working to accelerate climate action in the United States.
Transcript of Biden Remarks
BIDEN: Transportation Secretary Pete is here. Look, we know the -- better known as “Mayor Pete” -- (laughter) -- but he’s working with many of you to address those quality-of-life issues that really matter to people you serve, not just through big bridges and highway projects, but through -- though they’re important -- but also through smaller projects that are critical to your cities. Like in Madison, Wisconsin, where Mayor Rhodes-Conway is buying 46 electric buses, replacing those dirty diesels -- bad for the health of the environment and making it clear. No, I'm serious. It's a big deal. (Applause.) There you are, okay. (Applause.)
MAYOR RHODES-CONWAY: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. And it means our kids aren't going to be inhaling that diesel fumes when they get off the bus. For real. It matters. Environmentally, it matters, as well.