Metro Transit announced Wednesday that, by late 2020, it will begin to incorporate electric buses into its vehicle fleet.
The St. Louis-area transit system will add two electric buses that year, thanks to a $1.45 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program. Metro said that it “is currently seeking additional funding” to further expand its electric bus total, in a statement.
“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,” said Ray Friem, Metro Transit’s executive director. “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 has been evaluating the adoption of electric buses for a while, even conducting a one-week test run in April 2017 of a model made by the company, Proterra. At that time, Metro representatives said that although electric buses can cost about twice as much as diesel alternatives upfront, they have lower maintenance costs and would save money over time.
The two extended-range battery electric buses announced Wednesday will be made by the California company, GILLIG, and will undergo testing to ensure that they can at least match the performance of Metro’s 400 diesel buses, which log an average of 200 miles per day.
The costs of two battery chargers for the buses are also covered by the grant. Additionally, electric utility Ameren Missouri has pledged about $1 million for corresponding power supply equipment at the Brentwood Metro Bus Facility, where the vehicles will be stationed and charged.
Ameren Missouri, itself, has been eyeing opportunities related to electric vehicles, proposing an effort last month to provide incentives for hundreds of charging stations to be installed across its service territory.