CASPER, Wyo. — Despite reservations about adopting electric vehicles, the Casper City Council has formally accepted the findings of the Casper Area Transit Electric Fleet Conversion Study.
The study was one of three reports from the Casper Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO, accepted by the council at this week’s City Council meeting on Sept. 19, including the Evansville East Side Sidewalk and Trail Study and the North Platte River Park No. 2 Simple Master Plan.
The study, a joint venture between the MPO and consulting firm HDR Engineering Inc., explored the feasibility of transitioning the city’s public transit to an electric fleet, according to a memo prepared for the City Council.
The report was included in the MPO’s Fiscal Year 2023 Unified Planning Work Program, which outlines the organization’s planning projects. While the study examines cost projections, potential barriers and available funding sources for fleet conversion, there is no current plan to shift toward electric vehicles.
Mayor Bruce Knell has been outspoken about his reluctance to embrace an electric fleet, citing the city’s dependence on the gas, oil and coal sectors.
“I for one will never be in favor of bringing electric buses here because oil and gas pays the bills here. So it makes no sense to slap that industry in the face,” he previously stated.
HDR consultants had noted that a complete, immediate shift to an electric fleet would be neither logistically nor financially viable for Casper. Even with those limitations in mind, they suggested alternatives like an on-route fast-charging pilot project or a delayed transition plan.
The City Council’s acceptance of the study falls in line with the procedures outlined in the MPO’s 2020 update to its Long Range Transportation Plan, titled Connecting Crossroads. The $100,000 study was funded through the Federal Consolidated Planning Grant, as approved by the MPO Policy Committee in June. The City of Casper’s share was $6,970.
Although the study opens the door for potential federal funding for electric fleet conversion, a staff memo clarified that the city is positioned to capitalize on such opportunities only if it later chooses to pursue an electric fleet. The Federal Transit Administration has been promoting electric transit as a greener alternative to fossil fuel–based fleets.
The study’s acceptance is seen as the final step in the project, which involved contributions from federal funds and local agencies.
The memo on the study can be found below.