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October 15, 2020

Metro Transit prepares to fulfill its promise to offer new sustainable mobility options for the St. Louis region

Metro Transit is preparing for the 2021 launch of its first battery electric vehicles into MetroBus service thanks to the help of several partners including Ameren Missouri, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), New Flyer, GILLIG, and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE). The first two of a total of 14 battery electric articulated buses have arrived in St. Louis. The 60-foot heavy duty buses are manufactured by New Flyer of America Inc. Four 40-foot battery electric buses made by GILLIG are scheduled to be delivered early next year. All 18 of the zero-emission electric buses are funded through a combination of FTA grants (80%) and local sales tax sources (20%).

“The introduction of these battery electric buses into the MetroBus fleet next year represents our commitment to providing economically and environmentally sustainable mobility options as well as an excellent transit experience for our riders,” said Jessica Mefford-Miller, Metro Transit Executive Director. “We will be leaner and greener by introducing this battery electric bus technology, not just with the buses but also through the charging infrastructure and operating facilities.”

Since the articulated battery electric buses do not have combustion engines or transmission systems, they will offer substantial savings for taxpayers over the life of the buses, which is about 15 years. Metro Transit estimates a savings of about $105,000 in diesel fuel and another $125,000 in maintenance costs over the life of the buses.

“These buses deliver incredible benefits for the St. Louis region. In addition to the potential cost-savings they offer taxpayers, they are also zero emissions, and each year they will provide a reduction of 100 to 160 tons of greenhouse gas emissions when compared to a diesel bus,” said Taulby Roach, President and Chief Executive Officer at Bi-State Development, which operates the Metro Transit system in the City of St. Louis and in St. Louis County in Missouri, and in St. Clair County in Illinois.

The 60-foot battery electric buses have 320 kilowatts of battery storage on each bus. That is enough power to support about 10 2,000-square-foot houses for an entire day. They will operate exclusively on the #70 Grand MetroBus route, which is Metro’s busiest route and carries about 10 percent of Metro’s customers on a daily basis.

“The New Flyer buses will provide a smoother, quieter and cleaner ride for our #70 Grand route customers. Not only will it be more enjoyable for our riders inside the bus, but also for our neighbors on Grand Boulevard outside the bus,” Mefford-Miller said. “The current 60-foot diesel buses operating on the #70 Grand are due to be retired, so adding these battery electric buses to this high-volume route is a win for everyone.”

The battery electric bus program builds on the commitment of Ameren Missouri and Metro Transit to continually find innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Ameren Missouri has made a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and we’re eager to help our customers as they also transition to cleaner energy. We have incentives available to help local businesses install electric vehicle chargers through the Ameren Missouri Charge Ahead program,” said Marty Lyons, President of Ameren Missouri. “Metro Transit is moving St. Louis forward on a path to cleaner energy and a cleaner environment, and we are proud to partner with them in this effort.

Through the partnership, Ameren Missouri has built a new substation in Brentwood next to the Brentwood MetroBus facility to serve the growing electric needs of Metro Transit and the surrounding communities. The $11.3 million investment upgrades the power supply to triple capacity and modernizes the energy system for the area. The substation also features smart technology, including new automated sensors, switches and self-healing equipment to more rapidly detect and isolate damage in order to restore power quicker.

“This is a project the City of Brentwood has been working on with Ameren Missouri and Metro Transit for several years, and we are excited it is now coming to fruition,” said David Dimmitt, Brentwood Mayor. “This is completely aligned with our goal for developing a sustainable community for our residents, business owners and neighbors like Metro Transit and Ameren.”

The electric buses will operate out of the Brentwood MetroBus facility where they will be charged overnight each day. They will be recharged while in service at the Broadway & Taylor Transit Center in the City of St. Louis, allowing the buses to operate without interruption throughout an entire service day with the battery electric technology.

The main battery electric bus charging infrastructure is under construction at the Brentwood MetroBus facility and construction will begin in the near future at the Broadway & Taylor Transit Center. The New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions™ team is partnering with Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City-based national engineering firm, as well as local teams and experts to complete the planning, engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning of both charging infrastructures.

“This is a landmark investment in American infrastructure and zero-emission technology, and we’re pleased to provide sustainable mobility solutions through buses, technology, and infrastructure,” said Chris Stoddart, President of New Flyer. “Metro is leading sustainable mobility and shaping the community’s quality of life for the better. Together, we’re making the evolution to electric a reality for greater St. Louis.”

The four 40-foot GILLIG battery electric buses will offer similar cost savings and environmental benefits when they are deployed into service on the MetroBus system next year.

“We are honored to provide our latest zero-emission bus technology to Metro and the community they serve,” said Derek Maunus, GILLIG President and CEO. “GILLIG has delivered nearly 700 safe and reliable transit buses to Metro throughout our 20-year partnership. Metro’s new GILLIG battery-electric buses and investment in clean technology demonstrate their continued commitment to best-in-class transportation and a sustainable future.”

Metro Transit plans to start training MetroBus operators and mechanics on the new battery electric buses next month. The current MetroBus fleet of more than 400 clean-burning diesel buses operates in a 550-square mile service area as the main public transportation system in the St. Louis region.