Public transit riders who catch the bus on Metro’s busiest route are getting a chance to see new technology in action as Metro test drives a 60-foot electric bus.
“This is the fifth model of electric bus we’ve tested on the system in the past few months, but the very first electric articulated bus,” said Ray Friem, Executive Director of Metro Transit. “It will be exciting to see how this new technology responds on our most popular MetroBus route with the largest ridership, and determine if large, 60-foot electric buses can provide the efficiencies and cost savings to be a sound investment for the transit system.”
The 60-foot articulated bus from BYD Co. Ltd. is currently being operated on the #70 Grand MetroBus route to give MetroBus operators and maintenance staff the opportunity to experience the battery-powered electric bus in action in cold weather.
Metro put 60-foot clean diesel-powered articulated buses in service on the #70 Grand MetroBus route in June 2014 to help address overcrowding issues. The #70 Grand route is about 10 miles long and currently records about 9,000 boardings on an average weekday.
This model from BYD can safely operate on a single charge for well beyond 170 miles. The bus is powered by 360 kilowatt motors that are recharged at a MetroBus facility each day. The battery takes less than three hours to recharge.
There are a several reasons why Metro is considering adding electric buses to the MetroBus fleet. In addition to being environmentally-friendly, these vehicles could significantly reduce costs for fuel, parts and labor, and they typically require less maintenance over their lifespans when compared to diesel-powered buses.
Metro is the operator of the St. Louis region’s public transportation system, which includes the 87 vehicle, 46-mile MetroLink light rail system; 391 MetroBus vehicle fleet that operates on 77 MetroBus routes in Missouri and Illinois; and Metro Call-A-Ride, a paratransit fleet of 120 vans. Metro is an enterprise of Bi-State Development (BSD), which also owns and operates St. Louis Downtown Airport and its surrounding industrial business park; the Gateway Arch Riverboats, as well as operates the Gateway Arch Revenue Collections Center and Gateway Arch trams. BSD also operates the Bi-State Development Research Institute and the Regional Freight District.