RDU Prepares to Deploy Research Triangle Region’s First Electric Buses

Board Elects New Leadership; Airport Maintains AA- Bond Rating

RDU will become the first public body in the Research Triangle to introduce electric, zero-emission transit buses into regular service, as it prepares to deploy four Proterra Catalyst E2 buses next month.

“RDU’s new electric buses will provide a quieter, eco-friendly transportation experience for our customers,” said Michael Landguth, president and CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “We’re most excited about the environmental benefits these buses provide, and we hope other institutions will follow our lead in adding electric vehicles to their fleets.”

The 40-foot buses primarily will shuttle riders from ParkRDU Economy lots to both terminals, providing a quieter rider experience and quicker acceleration. RDU purchased the four buses for about $3.4 million, almost half of which was paid with federal grant funds. Each bus – rated at about 175 miles of operating range – could achieve up to $350,000 in savings over the vehicle’s lifetime compared to a traditional diesel-powered bus, as maintenance costs are reduced and electricity costs less than fuel per mile.

The Airport Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle (ZEV) and Infrastructure Pilot Program is designed to improve airport air quality and facilitates use of zero emissions technologies at airports. The program, launched in 2012, allows airports such as RDU to use federal Airport Improvement Program funds to purchase zero-emissions vehicles and associated infrastructure, and provides grant funds for up to 50 percent of those costs.

RDU estimates the buses will go into service by late May.

March passenger volume jumps: 553,137 travelers boarded flights at RDU in March, representing a 7.7 percent increase over the same month last year.

“We continue to be encouraged by RDU’s growth in passenger volume,” Landguth said. “As we prepare to welcome new air carriers this spring, as well as new routes from Frontier, we will continue to make infrastructure improvements identified in Vision 2040 to meet regional demand and provide a world-class experience for our customers.”

Board elects new leadership: The Board of Directors voted at Thursday’s meeting to elect new leadership. Wake County resident John Kane assumed the role of chairman of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board of Directors. Kane was vice chair for the past two years and has served on the board since 2013.

Kane’s new leadership team includes Durham County resident Patrick Hannah as vice chair, City of Raleigh resident Sepideh Saidi as secretary and City of Durham resident Robert D. Teer, Jr. as treasurer.

“I am honored to lead a board that reflects the diverse interests of the communities we represent and shares the unified goal of providing a world-class airport experience that meets the region’s aviation demands,” Chairman Kane said.

RDU maintains strong financial position: Fitch Ratings has affirmed the Authority’s AA-rating on $554 million in airport revenue bonds with a stable rating outlook. Fitch’s report cites four key drivers: RDU’s strong origin and destination demand and carrier diversification; cost structure management to ensure competitive airline cost per enplanement; the airport’s five-year capital improvement plan (CIP); and its debt structure.

“We’re pleased that Fitch has recognized our strong financial position and responsible asset management,” said Landguth.

The Authority also earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting in March from the Government Finance Officers Association, representing the North American organization’s highest recognition for award-winning accounting and financial reporting.