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Long Beach OKs Chinese Firm For $14M Electric Bus Contract

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(CBS) Ron Kilgore
Ron Kilgore is a 36-year broadcast veteran in radio and televi...
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LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Transit officials in Long Beach will work with a Chinese company to develop an electric bus for the city.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports the decision could bring much-needed jobs to one of the Southland’s most struggling communities.

Despite considerable opposition, the Long Beach Transit board chose a subsidiary of China’s BYD Motors to build a fleet of ten electric buses aimed at providing zero-emission public transportation.

The $14 million project will upgrade the Passport line that runs to the Queen Mary and will utilize still-developing technology. The 40-foot buses are expected to be delivered by June 2014.

Dissenters included board member Maricela de Rivera, who expressed concern about approving a bus not yet built or certified by U.S. testing standards.

“I gave up a car to use this service, and I take the Passport route, and my son is on that Passport route with me,” Rivera said. “I do not feel comfortable with a company who has not built a bus that has been tested by Altoona that will be on our streets.”

In order to meet Buy American standards, BYD will reopen a defunct RV plant in Lancaster, where unemployment runs as high as 15 percent.

Lancaster city manager Mark Bozegan said the city welcomes the opportunity.

“BYD has secured two properties in Lancaster for the manufacture of electric buses,” said Bozegan. “Those are fully permitted and ready to go now.”

The fleet is said to be the first of its kind and will likely set the standard for other U.S. cities to follow, officials said.

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