Metro Transit Puts Its First Electric Buses into Service in the St. Louis Region
New additions to the MetroBus fleet represent one of the largest initial electric bus fleet deployments in the nation, support sustainability and deliver significant cost savings for Metro Transit
United in their commitment to enhancing the sustainability of the bi-state St. Louis region, representatives from Bi-State Development, Metro Transit and several partners and regional stakeholders gathered on June 29 for the official launch of the first electric buses into service on the MetroBus system. This important milestone for the region was made possible by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA ) and Metro Transit’s collaboration with the Center for Transportation and the Environment, Ameren Missouri, , GILLIG, New Flyer and Metro’s key transit partners – the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County in Missouri and St. Clair County in Illinois. Metro is putting a total of 18 electric buses into service as part of the initial launch, with another six new buses joining the MetroBus battery electric fleet by the end of this year, providing economically and environmentally sustainable mobility options along with a wonderful transit experience for Metro riders.
The launch marks one of the largest initial electric bus fleet deployments in the nation. New Flyer America manufactured 14 60-foot battery electric articulated buses for Metro, and Metro purchased four 40-foot battery electric buses made by GILLIG, with six more of those GILLIG vehicles to follow later this year. All of the vehicles are zero-emission buses funded through various FTA grants (70-80%) and local sales tax sources (20-30%) and will offer similar cost savings and environmental benefits.
“We congratulate Metro Transit for investing in zero tailpipe emission technology for its MetroBus fleet in the St. Louis region,” said Mokhtee Ahmad, Regional Administrator for Region VII, Federal Transit Administration. “Not only are the battery electric buses better for the environment, but they are so quiet and provide a really smooth ride for passengers. If you have never ridden on an electric bus before, get ready St. Louis, because you are in for a real treat.”
“Electric buses create cleaner air, combat climate change, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Erik Bigelow, Midwest Director at the Center for Transportation and the Environment. “We are honored to be a part of this new chapter for Metro St. Louis, and look forward to helping ensure the deployment is a success.”
The 60-foot battery electric buses 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 battery electric buses made by GILLIG will provide service on a variety of MetroBus routes in the City of St. Louis and in St. Louis County.
“In the broader scope, when we think of our clean energy program, we are helping to support communities that are livable, that are more socially equitable and that are more environmentally sustainable,” said Rose Windmiller, Chair of the Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners. “With the help of the Federal Transit Administration and local matching funds from our three key transit partners – St. Louis City and County and St. Clair County – we are making important investments today that our children and our neighbors are going to benefit from both now and in the future. Today’s important launch of these battery electric buses is only the beginning of Metro’s clean energy program so stay tuned for additional investments.”
“Paired with local matching funds, we are making an important investment that will benefit everyone in St. Louis, whether they rely on public transportation or not,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “This initial group of 18 battery electric buses is the first step as we work together to build a healthier region and a better transit experience for residents, businesses and visitors.”
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page applauded the partnership that is delivering this cleaner transportation alternative for the region. “This is a partnership to be proud of, a partnership to safeguard our future and help protect the health of all of us,” said Page.
Since these 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 $400,000 in diesel fuel and another $125,000 in maintenance costs over that time.
“This project will provide tremendous cost-saving and environmental benefits for the bi-state community,” said Taulby Roach, President and Chief Executive Officer at Bi-State Development. “Metro Transit will be leaner and greener by introducing this battery electric bus technology, not just with the buses on high volume routes, but also through the charging infrastructure and operating facilities. We’re proud to celebrate this win for our region with our many partners who helped to make it possible.”
The 60-foot battery electric buses will be charged while in service at the North Broadway-Taylor Transit Center in St. Louis, the northernmost end of the #70 Grand MetroBus route. The 40-foot buses and 60-foot buses will be charged every night at the Brentwood MetroBus facility in Brentwood, Missouri.
Ameren Missouri built a new substation next to the Brentwood MetroBus facility to help with increasing electric needs in the area. The $11.3 million investment upgrades the power supply to triple capacity and modernizes the energy system for Brentwood and the surrounding communities. 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. Ameren Missouri’s partnership with this project is further evidence of the company’s commitment to clean. Ameren has established a net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050 across all its operations in Missouri and Illinois. In addition, Ameren has laid out plans for its largest-ever expansion of clean wind and solar generation that maintains the reliability and affordability that customers have come to expect.
“We are partnering with our customers and communities to make the transition to cleaner energy. It takes a commitment from all of us to leave the earth better than we found it,” said Marty Lyons, President of Ameren Missouri. “Converting a fleet to electric vehicles makes sense – from an environmental perspective but also from an economic perspective. These electric buses cost less to operate and that makes good business sense.”
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri could not be at the launch event but commented on the significance of this new initiative. “When people are deciding where to live, work, or start and grow a business, the convenience and reliability of the local transportation network is one of the most important considerations,” said Blunt. “With the construction of the new NGA West headquarters, a thriving tech industry, and a strong manufacturing presence, the St. Louis area is well-positioned for continued growth in the years ahead. Having a more efficient, modernized bus fleet available to support that growth is an important investment and great news for the entire St. Louis region.”
“We are pleased to introduce zero-emission mobility in St. Louis with these 14 sixty-foot Xcelsior® battery electric buses,” said Chris Stoddart, President, New Flyer and MCI. “Metro Transit is an innovative leader focused on delivering the best in urban mobility for its riders, and we look forward to supporting Metro on its continued journey to zero-emission mobility.”
“We’re honored to partner with Metro to bring innovative, zero-emission transit to St. Louis communities,” said Bill Fay, GILLIG Vice President of Sales. “We’ve delivered over 600 reliable and durable buses to the agency since we began partnering more than 20 years ago. With our battery electric product, Saint Louis is operating a high-performing, safe bus that is consistently on route, transporting customers efficiently and helping the region provide for environmental sustainability.”
For more information about Metro Transit’s Electric Bus program, visit metrostlouis.org/electric-buses.