The Chicago Transit Board awarded a $32-million contract to Proterra for the purchase of 20 new, all-electric buses. The new electric buses will give the CTA one of the largest electric bus fleets in the country.
CTA has been testing two electric buses since 2014, when the agency became the first in the country to use all-electric-powered buses for regular scheduled service. Both electric buses have performed well and handled Chicago’s weather and temperatures.
In addition to lower emissions that benefit air quality, electric buses offer savings in fuel costs and maintenance costs. The two electric buses currently in operation have saved CTA more than $24,000 annually in fuel costs, and $30,000 annually in maintenance costs, when compared to diesel buses purchased in 2014. They also provide a quieter ride, producing noise the equivalent to a human conversation.
The new buses will include new passenger information screens to show real-time travel information and other service information.
CTA expects to begin receiving the first buses by the end of 2018, which will begin service along one of CTA’s busiest bus routes—the #66 Chicago route. The remaining buses are expected to arrive through 2020 and will be assigned to operate along the #66 and #124 Navy Pier
The new bus contract also includes the installation of five electric quick-charging stations at Navy Pier, Chicago/Austin and the CTA’s Chicago Avenue garage. The units will allow charging within 5-10 minutes, allowing buses to return to service quickly. Buses can run between 75-120 miles on a single charge.
CTA will monitor the performance of the new buses, using the information to guide future modernization of its bus fleet. Since 2011, the CTA has purchased 450 new buses to replace its oldest models, and overhauled more than 1,000 buses to extend their useful life and improve performance. CTA’s bus fleet includes more than 1,800 buses.
This contract for new electric buses complements other CTA “green” initiatives, including the use of hybrid (electric-clean diesel) buses; ongoing conversion to more energy-efficient lighting, such as LED or solar powered, in vehicles and facilities whenever possible; and ongoing recycling of customer and employee refuse and vehicle materials (i.e. plastics, metals, oil, lubricants, anti-freeze and batteries).