electric vehicles

U.S. Airports Banking on Electric Buses

Airports investing millions on electric buses and infrastructure to reduce emissions output and diesel reliance.   November 2, 2022

By Dave Lubach, Managing Editor

Electric buses are taking off at airports across the country in the effort to achieve net-zero emissions while reducing the impact of diesel fuel on the environment. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently awarded $27 million to a dozen airports to purchase zero-emission buses, charging stations and equipment to service planes at gates. The money is in addition to more than $300 million airports received in grants last year for electrifying efforts, according to Canary Media

Airport operations contribute only about 1.7 percent of carbon dioxide emissions to the aviation sector compared to more than 97 percent of the emissions from jet fuel burned on flights, the FFA says. But as the Canary article indicates, replacing the buses and ground equipment with electric options will eliminate the release of diesel exhaust into the atmosphere. 

Examples of airports transitioning their bus fleets include: 

  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport will replace nearly 60 diesel shuttle buses with 50 electric models by the end of the decade, and has already used $10 million in FAA grants to purchase 10 battery-powered buses, ordered five more, and installed 11 electric charging stations. 
  • Sacramento International Airport has 10 electric buses and eight more on the way, with the eventual goal of replacing its entire fleet of 35 buses, which currently run on compressed natural gas. 
  • Rental-car agencies and taxi operators are using more and more electric options. 
  • Baggage handlers, airport tugs, and other ground equipment are also opting for electric options. 
  • Electric buses cost about $750,000 each, or about double their diesel counterparts. But airport officials anticipate long-term savings due to lower operating and maintenance costs with battery-powered buses. 

Dave Lubach is managing editor of the facilities market. 


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