The Examiner

New Castle’s Electric Shuttle Bus Plan Hits Bump in the Road

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New Castle officials plan to explore whether the purchase of an electric vehicle to serve as a shuttle between Chappaqua Crossing and the Metro-North station during specified hours is feasible.

The Town Board last week discussed the possibility with Director of Planning Sabrina Charney Hull of applying the $100,000 Clean Energy Community grant that was approved earlier this year by the New York State Energy Research & Development Agency (NYSERDA) toward buying an 18- to 22-passenger shuttle bus or trolley. There is also the chance the town could obtain a $90,000 rebate from NYSERDA to further reduce the cost.

Estimates for the vehicles before the grant and rebate are factored in are about $250,000 for the bus and $280,000 for the trolley, Hull said.

However, there are factors that may complicate a purchase. Hull said that under the Chappaqua Crossing Findings Statement adopted in 2013, developer Summit/Greenfield is obligated to provide shuttle service between the former Reader’s Digest campus and the Chappaqua train station upon completion of the cupola building residential units and for at least two years after construction of the residential townhouse units in the property’s East Village.

The shuttle needs to operate during the morning and evening peak hours as well as during lunch service from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The town would likely want Summit/Greenfield to contribute toward the purchase of that vehicle.

Town officials would also like a vehicle that could serve other transportation purposes when the Chappaqua Crossing shuttle is not in service. But the shuttle bus would require up to an eight-hour charge for 75 to 90 miles of travel, Hull said. That mileage could be further limited by the route’s topography and whether the vehicle’s heat or air conditioning is being used.

Given the limitations and complications, board members were skeptical whether the electric vehicle would work. Councilwoman Hala Makowska said the charge time may not make it practical.

“I also feel like we’re going from a simple concept to a complex logistical arrangement and a complex legal arrangement,” Makowska said.

Officials discussed whether a hybrid vehicle would be more beneficial because of the longer distance capabilities. However, Hull said she would have to research whether New Castle would still be eligible for the Clean Energy Community grant and the NYSERDA rebate if a hybrid was purchased rather than an electric vehicle.

Councilman Jeremy Saland suggested the town could find other projects to use the money.

“There are other uses for that money that are environmentally useful and smart and valuable even if they’re not sexy, fun and exciting,” he said.

On the grant application, New Castle had listed the electric shuttle bus as its top priority with the money being applied toward decorative LED streetlamps as the town’s second choice, Hull said. She said the 63 decorative lights cost about $800,000.

Supervisor Robert Greenstein said the town’s Sustainability Advisory Board made the recommendation for the electric vehicle. He said most people see some benefit in having the shuttle if its operation could be worked out.







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