Metro transit is taking new technology for a spin around downtown St. Louis in the form of an electric bus. The goal is to see if electric buses have advanced to the point that they might be a viable, efficient addition to the MetroBus fleet. The 40-foot bus is operating on the #99 Downtown Trolley route through April 25.
“We’re always looking at environmentally friendly options to enhance our MetroBus operations and maximize the taxpayer’s return on investment,” said Ray Friem, Chief Operating Officer for Metro. “In the past few years, significant progress has been made in the charge range for electric buses so we thought it was a good time to get a firsthand look at how far electric buses have come.”
The 40-foot electric bus, manufactured by BYD Co. Ltd, can safely operate on a single charge for about 150 miles and can recharge its batteries in less than four hours. Ideally, Metro would like to see the technology produce a longer range before recharging is required. There also would be charging infrastructure costs to consider as well as maintaining the charging areas. Metro’s current fleet of 40-foot buses can operate 500 miles on a full tank of clean burning diesel fuel.
All components of the electric bus – from its two electric motors to the braking system – are powered by electricity. The electric buses produce no carbon emissions and the buses run quieter than the diesel powered MetroBus vehicles.
Both electric and diesel buses have the ability to be in service for about 12 years or about 500,000 miles. However, Metro’s nationally recognized maintenance program extends bus life to 15 years or between 750,000 miles and 825,000 miles.
While an electric bus could cost nearly double that of a diesel-powered bus, the investment in electric would result in significantly lower fuel, parts and labor costs and less maintenance needed over the long term.
Metro plans to test other electric buses made by two other manufacturers later this year. For those interested in taking a closer look at the BYD Co. Ltd. electric bus, it will be on display at Earth Day in Forest Park on April 26.
About Bi-State Development Agency
The Bi-State Development Agency (BSDA) is the operator of the Metro public transportation system for the St. Louis region, which includes the 87 vehicle, 46-mile MetroLink light rail system; 379 MetroBus vehicle fleet that operates on 77 MetroBus routes; and Metro Call-A-Ride, a paratransit fleet of 120 vans. BSDA also owns and operates St. Louis Downtown Airport and its surrounding industrial business park, and the Gateway Arch Riverboats, as well as operates the Gateway Arch Revenue Collections Center and Gateway Arch Transportation System. The region’s new freight district also will be operated by BSDA.