The city of Asheville recently purchased five new electric buses, in an attempt to reduce the city’s environmental impact. After being in use for less than five days, it seems like one of the new buses has hit a “bump in the road.”
Asheville-based radio host Pete Kaliner shared a photo June 6 of a new, electric bus that appears to be stalled at a green light, featuring a caution cone and a vehicle that seems to be assisting the bus.
There is a lot of irony in the situation. From the brief story, we have no real idea what caused the bus to be stalled in the road. But it is a good opportunity to ask ourselves about the wisdom of environmental policies that may prioritize emotion over practicality or even environmental impact.
Reducing the usage of diesel fuel for city buses may have a positive impact, but electric buses using energy from coal powered plants can be marketed as much more “green” than they actually are. Given this transportation incident, it also raises questions about maintenance that may be needed more often or may be costlier than maintenance for traditional buses. Is the net environmental impact still positive? Maybe so, but it is important to clarify instead of jumping in headfirst.
Had the city used only Asheville tax revenue to purchase the buses, their efficiency would be a local matter for which the citizens would have to hold their elected officials accountable. However, the city primarily used federal grant money to finance their bus purchase – meaning that we all have a stake in whether or not that money is meeting its stated objectives.
Unless the bus issues become a larger trend, this is a minor occurrence in the grand scheme of things. But it serves as a warning on the dangers of policy-making for the sake of virtue-signaling. Unfortunately, it seems emotion tends to dominate many modern environmental policy conversations.