EV added to Dial-A-Ride fleet

City of Midland residents are now able to enjoy a quiet, gas-free ride from Dial-A-Ride thanks to the new electric vehicle (EV) transit vans and charging infrastructure that’s been added to the city’s garage.

Two years ago, Amy Bidwell, manager for Dial-A-Ride, began researching electric vehicles in hopes of adding them to Midland’s Dial-A-Ride fleet. After many months of research and grant writing, her dream finally became a reality.

Ribbon Cutting ceremony for new Dial-A-Ride EVs
Business and community leaders, city staff, and residents gathered last Friday at the City's Municipal Service Center for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the additions. Bethany Tabor, Electric Vehicle Program Manager with Consumers Energy, spoke to the audience to let them know how excited Consumers Energy was to be a part of this project, “I'm here to celebrate our partnership with the City of Midland and our shared promise to protect the planet.” Tabor also noted the new vans are important and residents can be confident that they are "reliable, safe, affordable and, of course, clean.”
Amy Bidwell, Dial-A-Ride manager, demonstrates new EV charging station.
Following Tabor, Tony Stamas, President and CEO of the Midland Business Alliance, presented an award to Bidwell for making the EVs a reality for the city. After a few more brief words from other city and business leaders, the crowd gathered around the two electric vehicle vans outside the garage to cut a red ribbon. Bidwell held giant scissors as she proceeded to cut the ribbon before the tours of the facility began. 

The tours included a look inside the accessible vans, the garage, including tucked away on the back walls, two small Ford Pro charging stations powered by a new transformer from Consumers Energy’s PowerMIFleet™ program.

Bidwell told the audience “not only can we see how the charging is going, but we can also see the vehicle's performance on the road. We have live mapping.” Bidwell and other staff can see from their offices how the vehicle is functioning on the road. They can tell how much further the vehicles can go on that charge, if it’s over the speed limit, if the driver is wearing a seatbelt, if the vehicle was involved in an accident and more.

The vehicles have a max range of 125 miles per charge and can regenerate the battery as it goes down the road. For those times when the vehicle needs a full charge, the vans will head back to the garage where they can take an 8-hour nap and completely recharge their batteries. If a short charge is needed, the charging stations can power the battery back up to 60% in approximately 15-25 minutes.
Two EV vans have been added to the fleet.
Bidwell states, “We know that public transit is a big contributor towards COemissions environmentally and we want to be part of the solution to that problem. So by going electric, we're going to significantly reduce Dial-A-Rides COemissions. That environmental reason alone is a positive for us.”

This complete project including the purchase and installation of charging stations and purchase  and retrofitting of the vans. This project was was made possible by the collaboration of local and state partners including Consumers Energy, ESCON Group, Hoekstra Transportation, and Mobility TRANS.

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Read more articles by Stephanie M. Yancer.

Stephanie M. Yancer is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors camping, kayaking, paddleboarding and sitting by the campfire. Stephanie is married to Justin, a U.S.M.C veteran and has three boys, a 21-year old and 6-year old twins. She graduated from Central Michigan University and is an alumna of Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority. She can be reached at StephanieYancer@gmail.com.