In a major clean air milestone for the Los Angeles region, Metro today announced the successful completion of its transition to an all-electric bus fleet on the popular Metro G Line (Orange) in the San Fernando Valley, offering Metro customers a non-polluting, quiet and ultra-smooth riding experience.
Metro has phased out its legacy 60-foot articulated compressed natural gas (CNG) buses on the G Line — the type that has run on the dedicated Bus Rapid Transit line since it opened in October 2005 — and replaced them with 40 new, 60-foot articulated zero-emissions buses manufactured by New Flyer. Called Excelsior Charge NG, the buses feature zero-tailpipe emissions, employ advanced electric technologies such as high-energy batteries and traction propulsion system. Rapid en-route chargers installed at North Hollywood, Canoga and Chatsworth Stations give the buses an all-day operating capability along the 18-mile corridor. Buses have about a 150-mile range on a single charge even without rapid charging.
The new electric buses contribute to Metro’s equity goals to help reduce disparities in access to opportunity, including health outcomes, in key communities along the bus corridor. Of the G Line’s 36 stops, for example, 20 (or 55 percent) are directly located in or adjacent to Equity Focus Communities across North Hollywood, Valley Village, Van Nuys, Lake Balboa, Reseda, and Canoga Park.
Metro first began converting its bus fleet to electric buses in July 2020. Since completing its transition from CNG to electricity earlier this year, Metro has officially logged an impressive 900,000 miles on the electric buses.
“Metro is officially on the road to a zero-emissions future with its first official use of electric buses on a major Bus Rapid Transit Line,” said Metro Board Chair and Chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, Hilda L. Solis. “This marks the beginning of Metro’s commitment and long-term investment in a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable bus fleet for L.A. County, one that helps our region reduce its greenhouse gas emissions at the tailpipe while greatly improving the customer experience.”
“Transportation is not just the largest source of air pollution in our state — it’s one of our greatest opportunities to realize our vision of cleaner air, lower emissions, and healthier communities,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “If we’re going to act this decade to save our planet, we need to see solutions on our streets today — and watching these zero-emission buses roll down our roads brings us one step closer to turning the tides of the climate crisis.”
Valley bus customers, as well as residents living next to the G Line, will enjoy the buses’ quiet operation. The buses are whisper-quiet because they do not need fans CNG buses require to keep their engines cool. Buses contain active suspension that ensures a smooth ride for passengers. Buses also employ dual electrically driven air conditioning units, a particularly good cooling feature for customers during hot summer days in the Valley. Customers can charge their portable devices using USB ports embedded in the bus seats. The buses boast public Wi-Fi access to better connect Metro bus customers on the go. Lastly, the buses also feature two drive axles for better acceleration and employ regenerative braking to recapture energy.
“Metro already has the nation’s largest clean air compressed natural gas bus fleet, but these zero-emissions G Line buses take us to the next level,” said Glendale City Council Member and Metro First Vice-Chair Ara Najarian. “The future is truly electric, not just for the G Line, but for the San Fernando Valley and beyond as we continue our work to provide a cleaner and more transit-accessible region for our riders.”
“Five years ago, the Metro Board supported my motion for a plan to use electric buses on the Orange Line,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember and Metro Board Member Paul Krekorian. “At that time, there were still many questions about the feasibility of electrification of the fleet. The success of the transformation of the Orange Line has answered those questions. This important moment in the history of Metro brings us that much closer to achieving our goal of a 100 percent zero-emissions fleet by 2030.”
Metro’s electric buses cost $1.15 million each. The project includes the deployment of the electric buses and associated charging equipment and infrastructure improvements. The total cost of buses, equipment and improvements is $80 million.
Metro is now planning to utilize electric buses on the J Line (Silver) that operates between San Pedro and El Monte via the Harbor Gateway Transit Center. The agency is now working closely with Caltrans, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison on charging designs along the J Line corridor. The ultimate conversion of the J Line to electric buses is anticipated to be completed in approximately two years.
“Today we are working tirelessly to create a more environmentally sustainable, equitable and resilient public transportation system for all our customers,” said Metro CEO Stephanie N. Wiggins. “Our zero-emission bus goals are an important part of our overall strategy to reduce our agency’s carbon footprint and become carbon neutral. We continue as a transit leader in our march towards a more sustainable and resilient transportation system that will benefit our customers, our industry and our planet.”
Metro has ambitious plans to transition from a CNG to zero-emissions bus fleet in the years ahead. In 2017, the Metro Board unanimously adopted a motion endorsing a comprehensive plan to transition the agency to a 100 percent zero-emission bus fleet by 2030. The agency currently operates approximately 2,300 CNG buses. Metro is the largest American transportation agency to pursue such a goal. The plan is contingent on continuous advancements in electric bus technology – which includes an increase in range, reduction of charging times and extension of battery life cycles – and a drop in price as the technology develops.
Overall, Metro also has strong environmental sustainability commitments. The agency plans to displace over 780,000 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent in L.A. County by 2050 through an ambitious suite of sustainability initiatives envisioned in its 10-year Sustainability Strategic Plan, Moving Beyond Sustainability.
For more information on Metro’s environmental initiatives, please visit metro.net/sustainability.
Note to readers and editors: Metro Operators are crucial to keeping LA moving. Metro is currently hiring more than 500 bus operators and is offering a $1,000 bonus for coming aboard. This is a great career opportunity. Metro offers competitive hourly rates starting at $17.75 for part-time bus operators and benefits include health insurance, tuition reimbursements, paid training, retirement plan options and part-time flexible hours. Please encourage friends, family and community members to become a part of the Metro team that provides excellence in service and support and keeps our region moving. Apply at metro.net/driveLA.