Metro Transit lands $1.75 million grant to add electric bus technology to fleet in 2020

Metro Transit will soon add two pollution-free, battery-powered electric buses to its fleet.

The Federal Transit Administration awarded Metro a $1.75 million grant that will enable the St. Louis-based public transit agency to two replace diesel buses with electric buses.

The FTA funds came from its Low or No Emission Vehicle Program, Metro announced Wednesday. That money will be used to purchase two extended-range battery electric buses that will be added to Metro’s clean-burning diesel fleet in late 2020.

Metro Transit partnered with Ameren Missouri, GILLIG and the Center for Transportation and the Environment on the grant application.

Executive Director of Metro Transit Ray Friem said the agency is grateful for the grant, which further diversifies its fleet.

“We are always evaluating new technology and are constantly looking for new opportunities to provide better transit service for our customers while improving air quality,” Ray Friem said in a statement. “With the help of our partners, we are making an investment that will add reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly electric buses to the MetroBus fleet, and help shape the future of public transit in the St. Louis region.”

Metro said it is also “currently seeking additional funding” to further expand its electric bus total, in a statement.

Two GILLIG 40-foot extended-range electric buses and two battery chargers will be purchased with the federal money. In addition, Ameren Missouri has committed approximately $1 million to provide an innovative dual-fed power supply to the Brentwood MetroBus Facility, the location where the electric buses will be housed and recharged.

“This type of technology could be a game changer – it’s good for the environment and helps our customers save money. It’s about our future and taking advantage of emerging technologies that will benefit our region,” Dan Laurent, Director of Energy Services with Ameren Missouri, said in a statement. “Partnering with Metro Transit and GILLIG aligns perfectly with our company’s vision of leading the way to a secure energy future.”

The two new extended-range battery electric buses will undergo initial testing by California-based GILLIG at their facilities, and at the Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

As part of the testing, route modeling will be evaluated to analyze specific in-service performance criteria of these electric buses to ensure various performance metrics are met.  For an electric bus to be a candidate to join the MetroBus fleet, it will need to produce the same performance as current clean-diesel MetroBus vehicles, which average about 200 miles a day.

“GILLIG is extremely excited to work with Metro Transit on this project with our new electric bus technology,” Joe Policarpio, Vice President of Sales at GILLIG, said in a statement.  “Metro has been an extremely important partner with GILLIG over the years in deploying innovative technologies that have resulted in escalating Metro’s on-time fleet performance and reliability, as well as reducing their costs. Not only will GILLIG’s electric bus fit particularly well into Metro’s fleet by providing quiet and emissions-free operation throughout the St. Louis region, its common platform with Metro’s existing GILLIG fleet will minimize the need for additional parts inventory and training. ”

Electric bus technology has rapidly advanced over the last several years and offers numerous benefits. In addition to being environmentally friendly, battery electric buses have the potential to greatly reduce costs for fuel, parts and labor. In addition, electric buses typically require less maintenance over their lifespans when compared to diesel-powered buses, while delivering the same level of performance and service. Metro Transit is currently seeking additional funding to expand the number of electric buses.

“St Louis is taking a significant first step supporting a healthier, cleaner and quieter environment by choosing to deploy the latest in battery electric bus technology,” Dan Raudebaugh, Executive Director of the Center for Transportation and the Environment, said in a statement.

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