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Electric buses are now helping to transport people around Acadia National Park

One of the electric buses that's now being tested as part of a pilot project in Acadia National Park.
John Kelly
National Park Service
One of the electric buses that's now being tested as part of a pilot project in Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park is in the midst of testing electric buses on its Island Explorer bus routes.

The 32 buses in Acadia's Island Explorer fleet carry as many as 650,000 passengers annually. Since 1999, they've been powered by propane, in an effort to reduce emissions. This month, the National Park Service is taking the first step toward electric buses, testing out models by two different manufacturers in a pilot project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Transportation.

Acadia's John Kelly says the early results are promising.

"We're testing the issue of elevation changes and distance in the routes on MDI, but we're seeing initially good results in terms of the amount of charge that's remaining at the end of the day," Kelly says.

Kelly says on a round-trip test drive from Bar Harbor to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, one of the buses used only about 3% of its battery power. He says if electric buses prove feasible in the park, they will likely be phased in over many years. The park is expected to begin testing its second bus model on Monday.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.

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