Houston METRO acquiring green buses to help improve the air we breathe

HOUSTON – Houston METRO wants to help make the air you breathe better and cleaner with the help of their new 20 electric zero-emission buses.

How will the new electric bus fleet benefit Houstonians?

  • It is METRO’s expectation the newly manufactured buses will offer riders a state-of-the-art riding experience that meets our commitment to providing customers safe, clean, reliable, accessible, and friendly public transportation. Features such as accessibility, style, comfort, and capacity will all be considered when we are evaluating the vehicles during the bidding process. The environmental benefit is really the most exciting feature. In Houston, more than 1,000 transit buses drive tens of thousands of miles every year and are powered by diesel-- fossil fuel that is proven to increase greenhouse gas emissions and breathing issues for humans.
    • “Houston has some of the worst air in the country. So, that alone is a big enough reason to celebrate transitioning to zero-emissions vehicles,” Bay Scoogin, the Director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group, said.

Will the price of a ticket to ride an electric bus be any different from your standard fleet?

  • The fare will be the same. Local Bus and METRORail fares are $1.25 per ride or $3 for a day pass. More information about METRO’s fares can be found here.
  • “By switching to these electric vehicles, METRO is going to save money over the lifetime of the bus,” Scoogin said. Simply because of how they’re made: less parts, less maintenance, and less money.

Where can we find these buses?

  • Once this new fleet hits the ground next year, they’ll launch on two routes:
    • The 402 Bellaire quick line, running along Beechnut and connecting folks from the West Loop to US-59.
    • And on the 28 OST/Wayside: The 28 bus has 71 stops departing from Fifth Ward/Denver Harbor Transit Center and ending on Ben Taub Loop at Cambridge Street.
    • These routes were selected because these communities are disproportionately affected by carbon emissions. The project has an equity and access focus with the initial routes serving three of the communities in the City of Houston’s Complete Communities program.

How will this project be funded?

  • Metro will use a 1.5 million dollar grant from the Federal Transit Administration to pay for their new electric fleet and the infrastructure needed to power them. Houston is now the eighth city in Texas to make the shift, following Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. As of July of this year, there are 46 electric buses operating in Texas, all paid for using FTA Grants.

Any concerns with the technology?

  • These buses can travel about 200 miles on a single charge. Houston is hot and humid and METRO knows the AC will be working to the max, potentially running the battery down. “...and at that point we’ll also do something called opportunity charging, what that allows us to do is charge the bus midday, while the bus is in service,” Andrew Skabowski, Houston METRO.
  • According to Skabowski, electric buses are more affordable than fossil fuel-powered buses in the long run, saving transit agencies money in operating and maintenance costs.

When will they hit Houston streets?

  • The fleet still needs to built, bus by bus. Most likely Houstonians will take their first ride on these electric vehicles at some point next year, according to Houston METRO.

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Traffic expert and What’s Driving Houston reporter, proud Latina, lover of animals, food and our beautiful planet.