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TriMet launches new zero emission, wind-powered electric buses

Posted by on April 16th, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Getting a charge at today’s launch event.
(Photos: TriMet)

TriMet and their partners launched five new all-electric buses at the Sunset Transit Center this morning. They claim to be the first transit agency in the nation to put fully wind-powered buses into regular service.

TriMet expects to have 10 electric buses on the road by summer of next year. The new rigs are part of the agency’s push to have a completely non-diesel fleet by 2040. And, with an assist from Portland General Electric, 100% of their power will be created from wind turbines.

At a press conference event today Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Transportation Policy Advisor Brendan Finn said, “One of the most daunting challenges we have in our society today is our changing climate and how we’re adapting to it. 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change are from the transportation sector; and that needs to change! Governor Brown’s administration has been laser-focused on reducing carbon emissions. Investing and expanding in transit is one of the cornerstones in the governor’s strategy, as is transportation electrification.”

Funding for four of the new buses came from a $3.4 million federal grant. PGE will own and maintain the charging equipment, a move that saved TriMet enough money to buy a fifth bus. TriMet says they’ll spend another $53 million to purchase another 80 electric buses over the next five-to-six years with funding from the State of Oregon’s Keep Oregon Moving Act.

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The first all-electric bus will start service tomorrow on Line 62 in Beaverton.

In addition to not spewing out an estimated 1.17 million tons of toxic CO2 emissions into our air, each new bus will save TriMet about $400,000 in fuel costs over the 12-year lifespan of the vehicle. They have a range of 80 miles per charge and can be re-charged in 30 minutes (with a fast charger) or four hours (on a standard charger).

Asked if they’d considered safety issues related to how quiet the new buses are, TriMet Media Relations and Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt told me, “We haven’t heard a concern about that and have done numerous road tests over the last several months.” Altstadt said the new buses are about 39 decibels while idling and are “much louder than a Prius”.

These new buses will only add to the momentum to dramatically improve bus service in Portland — a key part of our efforts to encourage less driving.

For more information, check out the official announcement from TriMet. And happy breathing!

CORRECTION, 4/22: The original version of this article said each bus would save $400,000 in fuel costs each year. That was incorrect. The correct figure is $400,000 over 12 years, or $33,333 per year. I regret the error.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Paul ConeJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)sorenrickHello, Kitty Recent comment authors
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bikeninja
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bikeninja

I love the drop down fast charger arm. Given how quiet they are I figure Trimet should rig them up to play a tune as they drive like an old fashioned ice cream truck. Would be quite the experience to be on the transit mall at rush hour with all the busses cranking out ” Turkey in the Straw” over their speakers.

Glenn f
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Glenn f

Nice!
Now stop putting in rail lines!
What about electric buses with the overhead lines also…?

Paul
Guest
Paul

What kind of noises do electric busses make while idling?

Bjorn
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Bjorn

If each bus costs less than 1 million dollars and will save over 500k in annual operating costs the big question in my mind is why aren’t we converting faster? A 2-3 year payback on investment is pretty damn good.

Jason
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Jason

The linked pdf on Trimet’s website has a lot of good detail, worth purusing.

Also, I think the $400k savings was not annually, but I think over 12 years? Sorry can’t remember the detail right now.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Less pollution is a good thing, BUT Wind turbines kill birds and bats | Wind Energy News – Wind Watch
https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2018/09/09/wind-turbines-kill-birds-and-bats/

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

First, the statement by Gov. Brown’s spokesperson falls flat when it comes from an administration that is supporting widening I-5 inside PDX and wants to reanimate the CRC zombie. Actually, it’s worse than flat, it’s pure BS. Her administration is a lot of things, but laser focused on reducing carbon dioxide equivalent emissions is certainly not one of them, not by a long-shot.

Secondly, electric power is fungible on the grid. Someone taking “exclusively wind” is just changing the mix that other customers get to be more coal. It’s mostly nonsense. That said, it’s only “mostly” nonsense since those who choose wind or other renewables generally pay a small fee that can, and often is, used to add more renewable to the grid.

Jim Lee
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Jim Lee

Ships have been wind-powered for a very long time.

Ron Swaren
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Ron Swaren

What I propose as the Western Arterial Highway (Northern Connector in Washington Co study) could have bridges with large concrete piers and built in water turbine generation. The Columbia River would have sufficient current for at least half of the year; the Willamette would even have a fair amount of water velocity in the winter. The Western Arterial would benefit all modes since it significantly shortens the popular Vancouver-Hillsboro route over the present I-5 and US 26 route. It also link together four communities and intersects other major routes—-so should attract transit users and bicyclists, though maybe not too many going the entire 14 mile route! The Western Arterial even goes close to the new METRO West Side Trail system; so it enhance cycling between some of the connected communities, or combo bus/cycle commuting.

There is a Montreal based company which build very high quality conversion systems for ICE buses. It i a susbsidiary of Hydro Quebec called TM4. What is lagging is the long distance battery technology and there are some breakthrough on the horizon,Kitsap Transit agencies connverted some disel buses to electric and the complete, refurbished vehicle were under 90,000 dollar.

David LaPorte
Guest
David LaPorte

Do those buses have 3 spots for bikes? That could be a game-changer in bus+bike commutes!

Terry D-M
Guest

At SE Uplift, we have been lobbying Trimet to buy 60 foot electric busses for the newly funded Division High Capacity Bus Transit project. Spokane is electrifying their new line being funded at the time. Spokane’s line is only 7 miles, while ours is 15. At our request, Trimet contracted out a viability study that showed electric 60 foot buses would be viable and save money long term.

Trimet however is reticent about investing in new technology. They are getting bids for the 32, 60 foot articulated buses for diesel only, electric only, and a mix of the two. With an estimated 16 year lifespan, the most likely result is a mix, then after extensive on the road testing, hopefully the next enhanced bus corridor will be all electric.

http://www.seuplift.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/SE-Uplift-Board-Letter-TriMet-Electric-Buses.pdf

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I find the lack of sails to be disappointing. Wind powered indeed.

q
Guest
q

The electric buses I’m familiar with were the ones I grew up with in Seattle, which were much quieter than standard ones, inside and out, and exhaust-smell-free. Obviously, that’s good for passengers. And the noise and smell of standard buses are a big drawback of living on a bus-route street, so anything that improves on that is good for people living in the city on busy streets, and better urban livability benefits everyone.

q
Guest
q

Actually I was referring to the ones from much earlier that were all-electric.

Lowell
Guest
Lowell

As someone who lives in a first floor apartment next to a bus stop, these quieter, cleaner buses cannot come soon enough. Those diesel engines vibrate my bedroom when they’re idling at the stop.

soren
Guest
soren

“The truth is that one strategy alone is unlikely to work…A carbon tax is one policy”

Ironically, you are pushing for only one strategy here (e.g. relying on our glorious “markets” to fix the problem they caused is a dubious strategy in my opinion).

“that I am absolutely certain will help”

Authors of the IPCC 1.5 C report laughed when someone asked whether it would help.

The “pathways” to mitigating climate change are not impossible. They simply require political will. PGE can be forced to shut down its fracked gas plants via the PUC. Voters can establish a public utility. It’s just a matter of enough people actually giving a @#$%.

Scott Kocher
Guest

That e-bus still has a way bigger price tag and carbon footprint than ‍♀️‍♂️‍♂️⛵️‍♂️.