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July 20, 2015 | 6 Comments

It’s Electric! Metro Test Drives Electric Bus in Forest Park

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You might hop on a Forest Park Trolley that looks a little different than the trolleys you’re used to seeing, starting tomorrow July 21. That’s because Metro is testing a refurbished Zero-Emission Propulsion System powered electric bus from Complete Coach Works, and Forest Park visitors will have a chance to join in the test drive.

The electric bus will operate on the #3 Forest Park Trolley route tomorrow through Sunday, July 26, to give our MetroBus operations team a chance to see the bus in action.

“This is a great opportunity to take a closer look at this new technology and see how it operates on the road under changing environmental conditions, like temperature variances and different passenger loads,” said Ray Friem, Executive Director of Metro. “With a better understanding of its full capabilities, we can determine if electric bus technology is a good fit for our MetroBus fleet in the future and if it provides a good return on investment for both Metro and the region’s taxpayers.”

The refurbished 40-foot electric bus can travel between 130 to 150 miles on a single charge and can operate safely for about 16 hours. It is powered by one 150 horsepower AC electric motor that’ll be recharged at Metro’s DeBaliviere MetroBus Facility each day. The battery takes about four hours to charge.

The initial investment for an electric bus would be about double the cost of a diesel-powered bus, but would result in significantly lower fuel, parts and labor expenses and less needed maintenance over the long term. Costs for building and maintaining charging infrastructure would also have to be considered. However, purchasing refurbished electric buses (such as the model being tested) can provide about $300,000 in savings per bus when compared to the price of a new electric bus.

Both electric and diesel buses are built to operate for up to 12 years or about 500,000 miles. However, with the efficiencies and diagnostic capabilities of Metro’s internationally recognized maintenance program, we’re able to extend the lives of our buses to 15 years or between 750,000 to 825,000 miles.

If you have a chance to join us on our test drive of the electric bus and ride it while it serves the #3 Forest Park Trolley route this week, we’d love to know your thoughts. Leave your feedback and comments below.

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6 thoughts on “It’s Electric! Metro Test Drives Electric Bus in Forest Park”

  1. Shannon Villa says:

    I tried to catch it yesterday in the 6pm hour and I could not find it anywhere. I think it’s the 3rd bus when the Forest Park Trolley runs at every 20 minutes? When it drops to every 30, it loses a bus and the 2 buses running were the usual buses.

    1. Matthew Hibbard says:

      Shannon, the electric test bus is not plugged into a particular schedule as it is not retrofitted with our GPS technology. The electric test bus is supplemented into the #3 Forest Park Trolley schedule and is schedule to operate for most of the day until July 26.

  2. Shannon Villa says:

    It has a nice interior and it seems like a nice bus. The outside is ok. The sound is not much different from a regular bus to me, although you hear some of the electric hum similar to when riding an electric trolley bus in San Francisco or Dayton, OH. It is a bit louder than I expected for an electric motor. There does not seem to be any loss of power although I have not seen it run on the highway. Overall good. I would like to see more aerodynamic buses in St. Louis. Not sure what the contract is with Gillig, but I would like to see New Flyer hybrid buses introduced. The New Flyer Xcelsior is especially nice and could give St. Louis buses the boosted image it sometimes needs. Washington, DC has some nice BRT style buses operating on regular routes in the city and Chicago is a good example of hybrid electric and diesel buses. But I guess for a rebuilt bus, it was a nice ride. A/C was nice and strong on a hot day.

    1. Matthew Hibbard says:

      Shannon, this is excellent feedback. We’ll pass over to vehicle maintenance.

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