Yesterday, I got a glimpse of what the future could bring for transit—electric buses! I was on board during a test drive of a bus manufactured by BYD North America.
They brought the bus to Portland to show off the advances that have been made in electric bus technology.
The bus we tested was built to specifications for a different market—not the North American. But for the most part—all the parts are the same—but the differences in the doors and seating arrangements could easily be tailored to the North American market.
That’s what BYD is doing for LA MTA and Long Beach Transit who have put in orders for a bus similar to what I rode on this morning.
So is this the future for TriMet? I can’t say just yet—but we will be looking to LA and Long Beach’s experience with them. I would love to see the range extended a bit (though now they would work for 60% of our bus assignments).
Price, battery life and maintenance savings will be key issues for us. In the mean time, we’re looking at what’s out on the market.
We’re currently testing four hybrids to see how well they perform in our rainy weather and hilly topography.
We’re also looking at expanding our hybrid fleet with what we’re calling “super-hybrids” during our next bus procurement in the weeks ahead.
TriMet led the way in applying NASCAR technology to our buses which has since become an industry standard.
Now, as we continue to renew our bus fleet, I want TriMet to take this opportunity to see what other cutting edge technologies are out there to both improve the performance of our bus fleet but to also to improve the ride for our customers.