CA: Antelope Valley Transit Authority Purchases BYD Electric Buses

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) is embarking on a demonstration project to determine if electric buses are a viable alternative for the small transit agency.   It is anticipated that two BYD electric buses will be placed in service by April of this year thanks to a supportive board and a generous donation of funding for zero emission bus technology.    

In early October, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to provide local Proposition A Local Return funds totaling $1.9 million to the AVTA to purchase two electric buses.  The grant is coming from Supervisor Antonovich’s Fifth District allocation of Proposition A Local Return funds.  

“We are extremely grateful to Supervisor Antonovich and the board of supervisors for their generosity in providing the funds. It’s very exciting to be out in front of such a revolutionary project,” said AVTA Executive Director Julie Austin.

Because the grant money comes from local funds, the AVTA has been able to expedite the procurement process and the buses are already in production at a cost of approximately $840,000 each. 

 A proponent of green technology, AVTA is striving to be a leader in zero emission bus technology.  Infrastructure upgrades and an electric bus demonstration project are underway as the first steps toward this goal.  Understanding that new technology is expensive, the AVTA is now in the process of seeking new funds to incorporate more electric buses into the fleet should the demonstration project turn out to be a success. 

The AVTA has secured assignment rights for two electric buses from the contract between LA Metro and BYD of Lancaster, Calif.  BYD recently opened a manufacturing facility in the Antelope Valley and has negotiated contracts to build 25 electric buses for L.A. Metro and ten for Long Beach Transit.

For AVTA Board Chairman Norm Hickling this is an exciting time to be leading the agency, “Our vision is to be a nationally recognized leader in transit and this type of endeavor is a major step toward that goal.”

The demonstration project will analyze how well electric buses perform on Antelope Valley’s longer than average transit routes during all four seasons. The region is known for its desert climate and is the perfect place to evaluate performance in excessive heat, wind, and snow, as well as mild temperatures.  The analysis will provide AVTA with information necessary to evaluate the bus’s battery life and determine the feasibility of incorporating more electric buses into the fleet.

Battery life and charging methods have been under analysis for several months and the AVTA has decided to use inductive WAVE technology, currently being tested in revenue service in Utah.  Inductive charging uses wireless technology to charge a bus battery while en route.  Proponents of this new technology contend the battery life will be longer using inductive charging because the battery is not depleted daily before charging occurs. 

The AVTA intends to hire a project engineer to help facilitate the electric bus demonstration project, support their Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) project, and lay the groundwork for a potential bus rapid transit project.