MTA bus official commits to Byford vision while introducing green buses

Acting President for MTA Bus Company Craig Cipriano at a Wednesday press conference in Harlem. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

MTA Bus President Craig Cipriano is made assurances that at least his division of New York City Transit will continue on the path set by outgoing President Andy Byford.

In that spirit, Cipriano and other MTA officials launched a pilot program on 125th Street: a singular, zero-emissions, 60-foot, articulated bus to travel the M60 route between Harlem and LaGuardia Airport.

“In terms of programs that Andy put forth… They’ll move ahead,” Cipriano said. “There’s nobody more committed than [Vice President of Subways Sally Librera] and I to move these programs forward, both on the bus and subway side. The people of New York need a system that’s well-taken-care-of, modernized to bring our city into the future.”

This bus will test the capabilities of the maturing technology such as range with the M60 being the longest route in the entire city at about 20 miles.

The MTA already has $1.1 billion slated in the 2020-2024 capital plan for 500 new electric buses, but the procurement phase has not begun just yet. The current price comparison between the XE60s made by New Flyer is $1.4 million compared to its more conventional $900,000 counterpart. 

But despite the cost, which an MTA spokeswoman said they anticipate is going down, the agency plans to replace all 5,700 buses in their fleet with zero-emissions buses by 2040.

Ashley Rose, an engineer with the MTA said there will be several depots where zero-emissions buses will be able to charge and air quality improvements are not the only benefit of the new models; they have the potential to operate better in the snow.

Both sections of the bus will have torque, giving the bus almost like a 4-wheel drive ability.

Harlem and Astoria in particular will benefit from the transit switching the M60 to zero-emissions as pointed out by Cecil Corbin-Mark, Director of Policy Initiatives at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

Corbin-Mark says the 125th Street corridor in Harlem has the highest asthma rates in the city with 10 percent of children having been diagnosed.

There are currently four of the EX60 buses operating on the M14 bus line of 15 purchased altogether in January by the MTA. With the purchase came 16 in-depot chargers and one mobile charging unit provided by New Flyer.

Although the 20 mile route is meant to put the EX60 to the test, the MTA has confidence that the 466kWh batteries will last for 50 to 90 miles before requiring a charge. But that depends on weather as well how many people are riding; the bus can accommodate 90 to 100 passengers, Rose told amNewYork.

Cipriano had one other message for commuters: ditch the cars and get back on the bus.