Metro Transit is preparing for the 2021 launch of its first battery-electric vehicles into MetroBus service thanks to the help of several partners including Ameren Missouri, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), New Flyer, GILLIG, and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE). The first two of a total of 14 battery-electric articulated buses have arrived in St. Louis. The 60-foot heavy-duty buses are manufactured by New Flyer of America Inc. Four 40-foot battery-electric buses made by GILLIG are scheduled to be delivered early next year. All 18 of the zero-emission electric buses are funded through a combination of FTA grants (80%) and local sales tax sources (20%).
Since the articulated 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 $105,000 in diesel fuel and another $125,000 in maintenance costs over the life of the buses.
The 60-foot battery-electric buses have 320 kilowatts of battery storage on each bus. That is enough power to support about 10 2,000-square-foot houses for an entire day. They 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 bus program builds on the commitment of Ameren Missouri and Metro Transit to continually find innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Through the partnership, Ameren Missouri has built a new substation in Brentwood next to the Brentwood MetroBus facility to serve the growing electric needs of Metro Transit and the surrounding communities. The $11.3 million investment upgrades the power supply to triple capacity and modernizes the energy system for the area. 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.
The electric buses will operate out of the Brentwood MetroBus facility where they will be charged overnight each day. They will be recharged while in service at the Broadway & Taylor Transit Center in the City of St. Louis, allowing the buses to operate without interruption throughout an entire service day with the battery-electric technology.
The main battery electric bus charging infrastructure is under construction at the Brentwood MetroBus facility and construction will begin in the near future at the Broadway & Taylor Transit Center. The New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions™ team is partnering with Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City-based national engineering firm, as well as local teams and experts to complete the planning, engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning of both charging infrastructures.
The four 40-foot GILLIG battery-electric buses will offer similar cost savings and environmental benefits when they are deployed into service on the MetroBus system next year.
Metro Transit plans to start training MetroBus operators and mechanics on the new battery-electric buses next month. The current MetroBus fleet of more than 400 clean-burning diesel buses operates in a 550-square mile service area as the main public transportation system in the St. Louis region.