Philadelphia is set to become the first city in the Northeastern US to put battery-electric buses into service. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) plans to purchase 25 40-foot Proterra Catalyst e-buses, which will be deployed on two bus routes in South Philadelphia.
Two canopy-style charging stations will be installed along the routes, and operators and service personnel will receive training in the new technology.
“We have one of the greenest bus fleets in the country,” said SEPTA Deputy General Manager Rich Burnfield, noting that more than half of Philly’s existing buses are hybrids. “With 25 electric buses, this is a real opportunity to pilot those vehicles.”
A $2.5-million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission (Low-No) Program will contribute to the $24-million total cost of the pilot project. The latest round of Low-No grants is also supporting zero-emission bus purchases in California, Ohio, Utah and Washington.
Cities around the world, from London to New Zealand, are testing e-buses. Philly seems to be the trendsetter in the densely populated Northeast. Boston is working on contracts to acquire five electric articulated buses from CTE and New Flyer, according to an MBTA spokesman. New York City is still buying diesel buses, and has no plans to buy electric buses, an MTA spokesman said.
Electric bus prices have dropped by more than $500,000 in the last five years, according to Proterra CEO Ryan Popple (interviewed in the July 2015 issue of Charged). His company’s current models run between $650,000 and $750,000.
“It’s quite possible that combustion vehicles become entirely extinct within the next five to ten years because of the cost deficiency,” said Popple. “As procurements of diesel and natural gas slow down, it’s about asking transit managers: are [diesel buses] really a good idea long-term?”
Source: Metro International