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Metro Buys 95 Electric Buses In First Step Towards A Fully Electric Fleet

(Photo by PatricksMercy via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Metro announced Thursday that it will purchase 95 electric buses in the first step towards transitioning into an emissions-free fleet, which it hopes to accomplish by 2030. The electric buses will replace buses that currently operate on natural gas. Previously, Metro used diesel-fueled buses, but environmental concerns instigated the transition to natural gas. Now Metro hopes to take the next step and eliminate tailpipe emissions entirely by ushering in the electric bus technology.

Metro will spend $138 million on the 95 buses from New Flyer America Inc. and BYD. BYD is the same company from which Metro sourced electric buses back in 2013, to fairly disastrous results. At the time, the company was undergoing investigations into its labor violations, and the buses Metro had purchased were cracking, rendering them unusable. BYD has facilities in Lancaster, which means giving them a contract would support local jobs, according to the L.A. Times. Metro agreed to buy buses from BYD for the Silver Line, and awarded the contract for the Orange Line to New Flyer because of the company's technical merits, according to Metro's blog The Source. The contract is also contingent on negotiating a local hire program with New Flyer.

Technology has improved on electric buses since 2013, but it still isn't up to par to replace Metro's 2,200 bus fleet (the second largest in the nation). Metro requires buses to have a "maximum speed of 65 miles per hour, sustain a 10 percent grade, and travel at least 250 miles at a time," according to Curbed, and most of the bus routes are too demanding for the current electric bus technology. As a result, Metro will be using these new buses exclusively on the Orange Line and Silver Line, which have charging stations along the route in case the buses run out of energy, according to the L.A. Times. The Orange Line runs between Chatsworth and North Hollywood, and the Silver Line runs from San Pedro to downtown L.A. along the 110 Freeway.