ABQ's electric bus trial run - Albuquerque Journal

ABQ’s electric bus trial run

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ABQ Ride is scheduled to begin using the city’s first electric bus, a 40-foot, Catalyst E2 series made by Proterra, starting Saturday, Jan. 30. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

An all-electric bus will be rolling through the streets of Albuquerque beginning Saturday morning.

Transit Department Director Danny Holcomb announced the electric bus service during a Friday news conference, saying the bus will initially run on the No. 66 Central route but will later be moved to other routes, “to see exactly how the battery life will be effected by elevation, terrain, temperature and things of the like.”

The 40-foot bus, a Catalyst E2 series made by Proterra, of Burlingame, California, can carry 37 passengers and is expected to have a range of 150 to 175 miles per charge.

The leased bus will serve as a test to see how it performs, and the city anticipates five of the buses will be purchased by the end of the year, Holcomb said.

“We’re still working on the specifications and options before we do a purchase order,” he said.

Each bus will cost about $925,000, though $725,000 of that comes from a Federal Transit Administration low-or no-emission grant that the city has already received. The rest of the money will come from other FTA grants, Holcomb said.

Bus drivers and maintenance staff have been training in-house and on the Proterra bus since December.

The new Proterra buses will not be able to serve the Albuquerque Rapid Transit route. The Proterra buses are too short, too low and don’t have the ability to adjust their height at the ART platforms.

Albuquerque’s fleet of about 160 buses, not counting Sun Vans, is currently powered by either diesel or compressed natural gas.

The ART route will continue to be served by 30 buses made by the New Flyer company of Minnesota.

The first buses purchased for the ART route were electric and made in California by BYD, a Chinese-owned company. Those 60-foot buses were plagued from the onset by problems that included shorter than promised mileage per battery charge, overheating batteries and cracked battery cages, brake malfunctions, nonworking air conditioners, faulty and exposed wiring and doors opening unexpectedly.

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City of Albuquerque Transit Director Danny Holcomb introduces the new electric bus on Friday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

It should be known within the first year if any of the Proterra electric buses have those or similar problems. “Then we’ll make a determination if we continue going with electric buses or we go back to CNG (compressed natural gas),” Holcomb said.

The push to adopt electric buses is part of Mayor Tim Keller’s pledge to make Albuquerque a 100% renewable energy city by 2030, Holcomb said.

NOTE: This story has been updated to correct information originally  provided by city Transit officials regarding the manufacturing location of Proterra electric buses and the number of Albuquerque fixed route buses.

 

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