MTA Tests Electric Buses for Use on NY Streets

Rendering of Proterra all-electric buses

The future of New York City Transit buses is electrifying. Or to be exact, electric.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board has approved leasing five electric buses, the first half of 10 to be leased this year, for a pilot program testing how these environmentally friendly vehicles will perform on the all-weather streets of New York City.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the pilot as part of Earth Week 2017, which celebrates the state’s commitment and accomplishments to protect the environment. With the launch of these electric buses, “we are taking one more step toward reducing New York’s greenhouse gas emissions, fight climate change and help secure a cleaner greener future for all," he said. 

The first five buses in the test are coming from Proterra, which will also lease six depot charging stations to be installed at the Grand Avenue Bus Depot in Queens. The electric buses will serve the B39 and B32 routes in Brooklyn.

The final five buses in the pilot, which will run for three years, will come from New Flyer pending MTA board approval and review and approval by the Office of the New York State Comptroller later this year. That contract would also include charging stations. The New Flyer buses would operate on the M42 bus route in Manhattan. Renderings of the buses from both vendors are available here

Once complete, the data from the pilot program will be evaluated to see if all-electric buses are suitable for the rigors of daily use in New York’s urban environment and climate, and to determine the range of the buses without the need for a recharge and specifications for future procurements. In preparation for the study, the MTA conducted a review of global best practices for electric buses that included reviewing systems in Europe, Asia, and South America; involvement in industry groups such as the Electric Power Research Institute, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the American Public Transportation Association; visits and consultations with transportation authorities in London, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Montreal; and testing and inspections of buses from a variety of suppliers. The pilot program does not limit other potential vendors or builders from future procurements.

"As part of our mandate to modernize all of the MTA’s operations, we’re constantly looking at new ways to lower our carbon footprint, and minimize impact on our environment. The leasing of the first five electric buses is an important step forward in that overall mission, and builds on the MTA’s already considerable contribution toward making New York the state with the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the United States," said Ronnie Hakim, Interim Executive Director of the MTA. 

New York state has the lowest per capita energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the nation thanks, in part, to the MTA public transportation network, which serves two-thirds of the state’s residents. MTA’s transit operations actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 million metric tons annually, offsetting its production of 2.1 million metric tons of emissions a year during operation of subways, buses and commuter railroads. The MTA is the first transit agency to quantify such emissions on a regional basis, and does so as part of its ongoing mission to measure all of the benefits of public transportation.



Rendering of Proterra all-electric buses