Mountain Metro testing electric buses

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Mountain Metro is testing how well electric buses perform here in Colorado Springs as they work towards their goal to have a 100 percent low or no-emissions fleet by 2035.

Many of the other places currently using electric buses have different weather and elevation conditions. For example, California is warmer and has a level landscape. Here in Colorado Springs we have higher elevation and colder weather. The testing is to make sure the buses can still get good mileage and battery life.

If the testing goes well, Mountain Metro plans to choose a manufacturer by mid-November. They would purchase their first three electric buses in 2021. Funding for the buses would come through CDOT via the Volkswagen settlement.

How Electric and Diesel Buses Compare

Ride

Mountain Metro says so far they have found that electric buses provide a smoother and quieter ride compared to diesel.

Cost

Electric buses are more expensive to purchase, but they cost less to maintain and run.

Type of Bus

Initial Cost

Approximate Maintenance cost per year

Approximate Fuel cost per year

Electric

$965,000

$21,000

$18,000

Diesel

$470,000

$35,000

$42,655

Smart charging technology allows the buses) to charge when it’s most cost effective. When the buses are plugged in, software will automatically determine the best time to charge in order to get the lowest utility rates. Using this technology, the Mountain Metro fleet (which currently consists of 61 buses) will be less expensive to maintain per year than an all-diesel fleet when it reaches 73% electric. At 100% electric, projected annual savings is $1.9 million. These numbers come from a Fleet Electrification Analysis completed in May, 2019.

Range

Mountain Metro buses currently run on clean diesel, which requires a more efficient engine and exhaust to reduce emissions. These buses need to be refueled each night. On average each bus consumes 44 gallons of diesel per day. An electric bus would need to be recharged every night. They can run about 200 miles a day on a single charge.

Mountain Metropolitan Transit provides local fixed-route bus service and Metro Mobility ADA paratransit service for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. All buses are wheelchair-lift equipped. Mountain Metropolitan Transit also provides other services such as Metro Rides’ ridesharing, vanpool, and bicycling programs. For added convenience, there are bike racks on all buses for riders who want to utilize the bike-n-bus program. For additional information regarding Mountain Metropolitan Transit please visit www.mmtransit.com, or call (719) 385-RIDE (7433).

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