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According to officials, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is now on a path to buy only electric buses starting in 2028, and use almost no gasoline to power its fleet by 2040. Backed by the Biden Administration’s plan to dramatically slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the MTA will no look at turning its fleet of 5,800 buses electric, especially since they burned 37.5 million gallons of fuel in 2020.

In a seemingly long haul, until the entire system goes electric, the agency currently has only 25 electric buses in its fleet, and roughly 55% of the agency’s buses run on diesel fuel. The MTA earlier this month put out a request to purchase 45 more electric buses, and there’s money for 475 more electric buses in the agency’s 2020-2024 capital plan, which also allocates money for 1,074 buses that run on fossil fuels.

Craig Cipriano, head of buses at the MTA, said on Sunday, “The technology is maturing. With the push from the federal government, the amount of focus, and, most importantly, the number of resources and money being put behind it, I really expect it to take off exponentially in the coming years.” The MTA’s most powerful electric buses, a set of 15 60-footers that operate out of Manhattan, can complete three or four trips before they need to be recharged — a process that takes nearly seven hours, Cipriano said. The batteries on the electric buses lose power more quickly in the winter when they must also power heating systems, Cipriano added.


“I think we have a tremendous impact on the industry,” said Cipriano. “We currently have $1.1 billion programmed from our 2020-2024 capital plan [for electric buses and chargers]. It’s something that no other agency can say … We buy the most amount of buses of any agency in North America.”

As it stands, MTA officials are now planning to begin building charging infrastructure in at least eight of the city’s 28 bus depots by 2024. “Even if the charging infrastructure is in place and battery performance improves, the city’s and state’s electrical grid must also play catch-up,” Cipriano said, adding that the current technology would require the MTA to consume 10 times the electricity it uses today if all of its buses were electric.

“The Department of Education last week committed to an all-electric fleet of school buses. The city is committed to an all-electric fleet of non-revenue vehicles,” said Cipriano. “They’re all going to be vying for the same power source.”



Rhea Sovani

Author Rhea Sovani

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