HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut is jumping into the electric bus lane.

The state spends about $100 million a year to buy diesel buses. The average age of the state’s bus fleet is nine years old and a typical fleet is expected to last 12 years.

Connecticut has some of the worst air quality in the country. State buses log 38 million passenger trips a year. Those diesel fleets create 38% of total carbon emissions.

Garrett Eucalitto, Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) deputy commissioner, said that is why the state is making a massive investment in switching to electric buses. The General Assembly committed to electrifying 30% of fleet purchases by 2030.

“It’s going to really help improve air quality for the people who live in New Haven, Hartford, Stanford, Waterbury, and actually throughout the entire state,” Eucalitto said.

A pilot program of 10 EV buses is rolling right now in New Haven.

“If you head down to the New Haven Green or along the routes, you’ll certainly find one of these vehicles behind me, and we have the electric bus logo right at the top of the bus,” said Josh Rickman, the assistant general manager of planning and marketing for CTtransit.

Electric bus technology has been out for five years. Rickman said these buses “are on the cutting edge of that improved technology.”

Over the next 15 years, 500 buses will be phased in costing tens of millions of dollars. One electric bus costs $900,000. One diesel/hybrid costs $600,000.

The federal government kicks in 80%. The state pays the other 20%.

“Over the life cycle of having that bus, we save around $400,000 total in fuel savings compared to electric and maintenance costs are 50% lower,” Eucalitto said. “So it’s a net positive for taxpayers when we switch to electric buses.”

A diesel engine has lots of parts. The view of the electric battery system shows a simple row of tubes and a square battery.

There are 10 charging stations in the garage. The buses hold a charge for 12 hours. It takes five hours to reboot them.

Dennis Solensky, CTDOT transit administrator, Bureau of Public Transportation said the bus facilities around the state are being upgraded.

“All-electric has to be brought in from the street at a much greater volume. So all the facilities are now in the process of being retrofitted to add these buses, to be charged,” Solensky said.

News 8 masked up and hopped on for a ride. One of the first things you notice is it’s smooth and very quiet — a danger for distracted pedestrians.

Katina Staton, CTtransit New Haven division head, said safety training was necessary.

“It doesn’t sound the same. So we did train our drivers to make sure that they were aware of that for the safety aspect of it.”

Over the next few months, the EV buses will be dispatched to a city near you. With high gas prices, timing is everything.

During the gas tax holiday, rides are free through June. After that, look at $1.75 a ride and 68 cents for disabled people or senior citizens. Just look for the white sticker in the window.

Each replacement of a diesel bus with an electric bus will avoid 230,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year – the equivalent of planting 5,000 trees.