Some of you have been asking about the strange looking bus cruising the Orange Line this morning. It’s a prototype 60-foot articulated electric vehicle – probably the largest all-electric bus currently running in North America. It’s out for a five-day test run on Metro’s Orange Line.
Metro has five 40-foot electric buses being built under a contract with BYD Motors Inc. at their facility in Lancaster. Delivery of these buses is expected in early 2015. The testing this week on the Orange Line will help Metro better understand battery electric buses and operating parameters. The low-noise, zero-emission buses are part of Metro’s continuing quest for greener, more sustainable operation methods.
Existing electric bus technology presents a number of operational challenges for Metro. Electric vehicles typically have limited operating ranges that max out at around 150 miles per charge. This can make operating electric vehicles impractical for most of Metro’s lines. For the Orange Line, which at 18 miles each way isn’t a particularly long line, Metro typically schedules buses to run 250 to 300 miles daily. However, since the Orange Line runs right next to Metro’s Chatsworth division, electric buses can potentially drop in there to take advantage of mid-day charging to “top off” the batteries.
As posted previously on The Source, these buses are part of a large effort to test clean-air prototype buses prior to the next Metro replacement bus procurement in 2016. Funding for the buses has been made possible through Measure R funds dedicated to transit operations.