MBTA Deploys Prototype Zero-Emission Transit Buses

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority deployed the first three of five zero-emission battery-electric bus or BEB prototypes on July 31 to operate along Greater Boston area routes.

The 60-foot articulated BEB buses – built by New Flyer – are part of a two-year demonstration project supported by a $10 million federal grant, noted Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker (R) (at right in photo abovein a statement – a grant that is also funding construction of five charging stations where each BEB will be “refueled” overnight.

Photo by MBTA

The MBTA said this demonstration project will compile BEB performance and operational data focused on: power consumption of the electric-powered heaters aboard the bus; operator and passenger comfort; vehicle range and how it is affected by “extreme conditions” including hot and cold weather; re-charging requirements; and projected operating costs.

The MBTA will also be one of the first systems to test 100 percent electric heat for comfortable onboard temperatures during winter months as the agency said previous U.S.-built BEB models relied on diesel-fired auxiliary heaters. These BEB models are also powered by both rear- and center-axle electric motors to improve operational safety during the winter months, the agency added.

[Here’s an up-close look at a similar BEB model deployed by the North County Transit District in California.]

“The procurement and testing of new battery-electric bus technology is exactly the type of investment we aim to continue with the Transportation Bond Bill in order to help the MBTA plan for the future,” Gov. Baker added. “Our administration will continue to explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth’s transportation system and we look forward to more improvements as the MBTA makes progress on delivering a more reliable bus system.”

Stephanie Pollack

“These new zero-emission, completely battery-electric bus prototypes are an emerging technology aimed at providing a safe, reliable, comfortable ride while lowering energy costs and reducing dependence on fossil fuels,” noted Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “We are pleased to take steps forward with the process of evaluating whether these kinds of new technologies that promote sustainability are appropriate for daily service for MBTA customers.”

“We’re excited to introduce these first battery-electric buses into service on the Silver Line to test how they operate in real-world conditions on Boston streets and in the Silver Line tunnel,” added MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.

“This is an exciting first step in testing new technologies to electrify our bus fleet, save on fuel costs, and reduce our maintenance needs,” he said. “We look forward to seeing how these buses perform, gathering data on power consumption, and testing their range during extreme weather as we continue to seek ways to reduce greenhouse gases and improve service for our customers.”

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