September 30, 2020

Metro Transit Buys Fleet Of 14 Electric Buses

Metro Transit Buys Fleet Of 14 Electric Buses

Electric buses are coming to the St. Louis region.

Metro Transit announced Tuesday a deal with Minnesota-based New Flyer of America to add 14 zero-emission buses to the city’s fleet.

The new buses stretch 60 feet long and come with a price tag of $1.33 million each. Eighty percent of the cost will be covered by grants from the Federal Transit Administration, said Jessica Mefford-Miller, executive director of Metro Transit.

The regional transit agency has been considering adding electric battery-powered vehicles to its fleet for more than a decade, Mefford-Miller said.

“It has long been a goal of ours to begin transitioning our bus fleet away from diesel to battery electric technology,” she said.

Metro will pay an additional $8.72 million to New Flyer and Burns & McDonnell, an engineering firm based in Kansas City, to design and build the equipment needed to charge the buses.

Some of those upgrades are already underway. Electric utility Ameren finished building a new substation in Brentwood for powering the vehicles this week.

Metro already owns four, slightly smaller electric buses that the transit authority purchased from manufacturer Gillig. But the charging stations are being built to be compatible with all standard types of electric buses, New Flyer’s director of sustainable transportation David Warren said.

That flexibility should aid Metro’s goal of efficiently expanding its fleet of electric vehicles while retiring older diesel-powered buses from service.

Despite the upfront costs, investing in the electric buses will end up saving taxpayers money in the long run, Mefford-Miller said.

“The life cycle cost for these electric buses is indeed less than the lifecycle cost for a comparable bus powered by diesel fuel,” she said. “We have the added benefit of a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and lower tailpipe emissions.”

Commuters may see the buses as they are tested around the region this fall, but riders won’t be boarding the battery-powered machines until early 2021.

Follow Becca on Twitter: @itsreallyflick

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