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All-electric articulated buses deployed in Manhattan to help ‘save the planet’

The first electric articulated bus, at Union Square during its inaugural run on the M14 SBS route Sunday morning. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

Talk about an electrifying move for Manhattan!

The MTA rolled out on Sunday morning its first all-electric articulated bus, one of a new fleet that is part of the agency’s plan to shift away from diesel-powered buses in the years ahead.

The 15 new electric articulated buses will serve the M14 Select Bus Service route. They are the first electric buses that New York City Transit owns; they currently lease 10 other electric buses in use throughout the city.

The MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Plan allocated $1.1 billon for 500 new electric buses, and eight bus depots for them, which will include 100 articulated buses and have the first deliveries start in 2020, according to NYC Transit President Andy Byford. About 100 of the buses are scheduled to be delivered each year after that.

Byford said the electric buses will be distributed across all five boroughs. By 2029, the MTA plans to only purchase electric buses for its fleet.

“We’re very excited to be here today, because today’s a milestone in our Fast Forward plan,” Byford said on Dec. 15 at a Midtown bus depot, moments before the first electric articulated bus left for 14th Street. The Fast Forward plan is Byford’s multi-faceted initiative to modernize the city’s public transit.

NYC Transit President Andy Byford speaking at the bus depot in front of an electric articulated bus. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

 

Byford said the electric bus plan was the right thing to do for the environment, and it provides New Yorkers better technology for transportation.

There are 16 charging stations at the Midtown bus depot, at West 40th Street and Eleventh Avenue, noted Craig Cipriano, acting president of MTA Bus Company and senior vice president of NYC Transit’s Dept. of Buses. Charging the buses takes about three hours and will be done overnight. Buses can go about 50 to 90 miles on a single charge.

“Today we are taking a huge leap forward,” Cipriano said. “I want to say to everyone in New York: Ride the bus and save the planet.”

Environmental advocates lauded the new articulated electric buses, and said that transportation was the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State and nationwide.

Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, called it “an important step forward,” and said emissions can cause health problems, including asthma.

“Reducing emissions means a healthier New York for everyone,” said Lauren Bailey, Director of Climate Change Policy for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. She noted that electric buses were also quieter, and called for electric buses to be used statewide.

Each electric articulated bus is 60 feet long and costs $1.4 million. Cipriano said each bus will save about 90 tons of carbon emissions and 8,000 gallons of diesel gas in a year.  

A bus charging demonstration by Craig Cipriano, Acting President of the MTA Bus Company. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

 

Cipriano also took the opportunity Sunday to tout the success of the M14 busway, providing new data that indicated buses are traveling at higher speeds.

Speeds on the corridor between Third and Ninth Avenues have doubled since last year, Cipriano said, going from an average of 2.4 miles per hour to 4.8 mph (average speeds include time for stops and traffic lights). He said top speeds during the day reached 6.1 mph, compared to 4.8 mph during a similar time last year.

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