March 2, 2021

Biodiesel, not electric, buses may join Metro Transit fleet

Biodiesel, not electric, buses may join Metro Transit fleet


Next week, the Metropolitan Council will consider spending $122 million to buy more than 140 transit buses powered by biodiesel fuel — not electricity.

The 60-foot buses would be part of Metro Transit’s fleet, including the Orange Line and the B and D lines, new bus rapid transit lines in the works.

Metro Transit vowed in 2018 to electrify its entire fleet of buses, a move cheered by a coalition of environmental and social justice groups.

According to U.S. PIRG, a Washington, D.C. interest group, battery-powered electric buses can reduce the environmental and health threats posted by regular diesel buses.

The 143 buses that may be purchased by the council would be powered by biodiesel fuel, which is a mixture of diesel gas, soybean byproducts and animal fats.

Metro Transit has already deployed eight electric buses on the C line, rapid bus service that began in 2019 and connects Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center. But the pilot project unearthed several challenges with electric bus charging technology.

Metro Transit General Manager Wes Kooistra also noted the new biodiesel buses are more appropriate for bus rapid transit lines and commuter routes because they tend serve a bigger area. Adopting a charging infrastructure for these areas might prove challenging, he said.

The Orange Line is slated to link downtown Minneapolis to Burnsville, mostly along Interstate 35W starting later this year. The D line will connect the Mall of America to Brooklyn Center and the B line will connect Uptown with downtown St. Paul.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752 @ByJanetMoore

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