In what is believed to be a transit industry first in the United States, TriMet's all-electric buses will be powered by 100 percent wind energy, as announced by TriMet and project partner Portland General Electric. As Oregon's largest transit provider, TriMet has committed to a non-diesel bus fleet by 2040. The initial journey toward a non-diesel fleet now begins with battery-electric buses that will be powered by PGE's Clean Wind renewable energy program. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Electric Buses 2019-2029.
"Today, we are riding the winds of change. TriMet's commitment to a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040 and support of wind power put the agency and our region at the forefront of a cleaner future." said Doug Kelsey, TriMet general manager.
"We are proud to support TriMet's work to electrify transportation across our region. Powered by wind, this all-electric bus line is a sustainable transportation option for the community and another step closer to a clean energy future for Oregon." said Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO.
TriMet's Board of Directors, at the end of 2018, approved the agency's ambitious plan to transition to a clean energy bus fleet. That transition began on April 19 2019, with the official launch of TriMet's first all-electric bus. The New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE™ zero-emission bus has been conducting some initial testing in revenue service since early March. It will soon be joined by four matching electric buses, all of which will run on TriMet Line 62-Murray Blvd in Washington County, and all powered by renewable wind energy.
As Oregon Governor Kate Brown has made climate action and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions a priority for the state, TriMet's launch of battery electric buses is a critical first step to a green bus fleet. "Zero emission transit is Oregon's best strategy to address greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector that are contributing to climate change," said Transportation Policy Advisor Brendan Finn. "Governor Brown is pursuing every avenue to reduce carbon emissions while supporting long-term economic growth, and she applauds TriMet and PGE for this groundbreaking effort."
"Shifting from fossil fuels to clean energy is essential to addressing the climate crisis, and it's exciting to see TriMet begin to phase out their diesel bus fleet. These electric buses are a tangible step toward a cleaner, more sustainable future for our region." said Meredith Connolly, Climate Solutions Oregon director.
TriMet's electric buses have electric motors powered by energy stored in rechargeable battery packs instead of combustion engines fueled by diesel. These buses will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 100-140 tons per year compared to a 40-foot diesel bus and about 75 tons per year compared to TriMet's eight diesel-hybrid buses. Like current Trimet hybrid buses and select MAX trains, the electric buses have regenerative braking. This means when the vehicle slows, kinetic energy is captured and can be used immediately or stored in the battery for later use.
TriMet's first five battery-electric buses come thanks to a $3.4 million federal grant, plus an innovative partnership with PGE. The grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Low and No Emission (Low-No) Vehicle Deployment program initially paid for four buses. Under the PGE partnership, the utility will own and maintain the electric charging equipment. The savings from the partnership allowed TriMet to purchase a fifth bus, with more electric buses coming down the road. In August 2018, TriMet received a second FTA Low-No grant that will provide five additional electric buses.
The technology for battery electric buses is still emerging. Over the next five years, TriMet will put the electric buses through real-world testing in hilly terrains and local traffic conditions and evaluate performance, cost and reliability of the buses and determine whether to accelerate transition, slow it down or increase testing of other technologies and alternatives, including potentially hydrogen and renewable natural gas.
Source and top image: TriMet