Metro Transit wants to add the first five electric buses to the agency’s fleet, a move that may not be financially beneficial in the near-term but could pay off in other ways, representatives say.
Chuck Wurzinger, Metro Transit assistant maintenance director, told the Metropolitan Council Transportation Committee last week that after studying electric buses, the agency is ready to issue a request for proposals to add the vehicles and charging infrastructure once funding is lined up.
A 40-foot electric bus would cost about $785,000 — approximately $325,000 more than a diesel bus the same size. In-route charging stations can cost $500,000 before installation, while a charging station for a garage comes to $50,000. The agency is aiming to install one in-route charger.
Metro Transit receives federal money to help purchase new diesel buses, but to help offset the added costs for electric vehicles, chargers and related improvements, the agency last year applied for a Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
In the coming weeks the agency will know whether a grant will be awarded, but could receive between $1.3 million to $2.7 million, Wurzinger said in an interview Monday.
The grant would make the initiative more feasible, Brian Lamb, Metro Transit general manager told the committee last week.
“From a business perspective, we are struggling with the cost effectiveness without having the assistance of that grant,” he said.
But when the buses arrive, Metro Transit would save on fuel, oil changes and other engine maintenance with electric buses Wurzinger said. The initiative would also help reduce the agency’s carbon footprint and offer quieter buses.
If the federal grant comes through this year, electric buses could be added to Metro Transit’s fleet in place of some new diesel buses as soon as 2017, said Howie Padilla, spokesperson for Metro Transit.