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Metro Transit Buys Fleet Of 14 Electric Buses

One of New Flyer's 60-foot long articulated models. Fourteen of these buses will be introduced to Metro's fleet this year.
New Flyer of America Inc.
New Flyer of America Inc.
Fourteen electric buses will join Metro Transit’s active fleet in 2021. The 60-foot-long buses [pictured] will begin being tested on St. Louis-area roads this fall.

Electric buses are coming to the St. Louis region.

Metro Transit announced Tuesday a deal with Minnesota-based New Flyer of America to add 14 zero-emission buses to the city’s fleet.

The new buses stretch 60 feet long and come with a price tag of $1.33 million each. Eighty percent of the cost will be covered by grants from the Federal Transit Administration, said Jessica Mefford-Miller, executive director of Metro Transit.

The regional transit agency has been considering adding electric battery-powered vehicles to its fleet for more than a decade, Mefford-Miller said.

“It has long been a goal of ours to begin transitioning our bus fleet away from diesel to battery electric technology,” she said.

Metro will pay an additional $8.72 million to New Flyer and Burns & McDonnell, an engineering firm based in Kansas City, to design and build the equipment needed to charge the buses.

Some of those upgrades are already underway. Electric utility Ameren finished building a new charging substation in Brentwood this week. The charging stations are being built to be compatible with several types of electric buses, said David Warren, New Flyer’s director of sustainable transportation.

That flexibility should aid Metro’s goal of efficiently expanding its fleet of electric vehicles while retiring older, diesel-powered buses from service. Metro also ordered four, slightly smaller electric buses in March from manufacturer Gillig.

Despite the upfront costs, investing in the electric buses will end up saving taxpayers money in the long run, Mefford-Miller said.

“The life cycle cost for these electric buses is indeed less than the life cycle cost for a comparable bus powered by diesel fuel,” she said. “We have the added benefit of a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and lower tailpipe emissions.”

Commuters may see the buses as they are tested around the region this fall, but riders won’t be boarding the battery-powered machines until early 2021.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when Metro Transit purchased four electric buses from manufacturer Gillig.

Follow Becca on Twitter: @itsreallyflick

Becca is an intern with St. Louis Public Radio.