Following the recent and positive completion of an electric bus trial program, the Chicago Transit Authority has committed to purchasing a fleet of 20 to 30 electric buses over the next few years, according to recent reports.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) first took delivery of electric buses — two of them — back in October 2014 for the aforementioned testing process. Things seem to have gone well enough — with no significant mechanical issues being reported since then — that the authority has decided to slowly transition to the new modality.
The two buses that have been in service since 2014 are 40-foot models from New Flyer Industries — each outfitted with 300-kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery packs, allowing for a range of around 80 miles per full-charge.
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The pair have already carried around 100,000 passengers on 13 routes — racking up 25,000 in-service miles. The buses’ battery packs are intended to last their entire service lives — meaning about 12 years.
Officials claim the emissions reductions from operating the two buses is the equivalent of removing 14 internal-combustion cars from the road, and adds up to $39,000 in health-benefit savings. In an “average year of use,” the CTA expects each bus to save $25,000 in fuel, and $55,000 in public-health costs. The agency will issue a request for proposals later this year, for both additional 40-foot electric buses and charging stations that will be placed along their routes.
The newly announced fleet purchase is expected to run $30 to $40 million, with federal funding support contributing to some degree. The CTA will reportedly still operate diesel-electric hybrids for some time — and some diesel buses will be outfitted with particulate filters, it should be noted.