As more communities move away from carbon-emitting vehicles, Valley Metro is looking ahead to buses that run on electricity.
Electric bus technology is rapidly evolving and it’s becoming a more viable option for regions with hot climates.
An electric bus produces 58 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than a diesel bus and 52 percent less CO2 than a natural gas bus (UCSUSA, 2018).
Additionally, there are estimates that show battery-electric buses have a similar or reduced cost of ownership in comparison with traditional buses. There are fewer components inside electric buses that require maintenance.
In the past, it has been difficult to operate electric buses in extreme heat because using air conditioning drains the bus battery more quickly. Other concerns included the distance that electric buses could travel and the disposal of batteries.
Valley Metro tested three electric bus models in the summer of 2020. The agency was looking for durability and reliability in the summer heat.
The Xcelsior Charge built by New Flyer was tested for two days and had a maximum range of 160 miles in 112°F. For comparison, the last electric bus tested in 2016 had a maximum range of 90 miles in the summer heat.
Other findings show the New Flyer bus took just two hours to go from five percent to 95 percent state of charge.
With recently improved battery technology, Valley Metro has determined there is potential to utilize electric buses on some routes across greater Phoenix.
After the demonstrations, Valley Metro decided to partner with established diesel, natural gas, and electric bus manufacturer, New Flyer.
The agency has submitted multiple grant applications to support the initial investment of electric bus options that Valley Metro will consider in the future.