San Diego MTS begins construction on bus charging system

May 6, 2022
The overhead gantry charging system can charge 24 buses at a time and is expandable to accommodate MTS’ growing electric fleet.

Elected officials, SDG&E and labor union representatives joined San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) at the South Bay Bus Operations & Maintenance Facility in Chula Vista, Calif., to mark the start of construction on an overhead charging system – the first of its kind to be installed in North America.

MTS will be installing the Schunk SLS 301 series Depot Charging Pantograph, which the transit system says offers a quicker and safer hands-free electric vehicle charge. The charging system allows buses to be docked in seconds and fully charged in a few hours, which supports operations out of MTS’ South Bay Bus Division as it performs 2,800 trips every weekday.

“Today, we are taking a leap forward for environmental justice, sustainability and clean air,” said MTS Board Chair and chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher. “In order to stay on the forefront of technology, MTS looked at solutions to maximize our land use and the overhead charging system not only is the most innovative technology yet, it provides the infrastructure necessary to keep buses in service and yard operations running effectively. It also brings us closer to achieving regional climate goals and a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040.”

The $8.5 million overhead gantry charging system will allow charging of 24 battery-electric buses and it is expandable to add more charging capacity as MTS transitions its fleet to all electric over the coming years. Construction on the South Bay Bus Division system is expected to be completed by early 2023 and MTS plans to build similar overhead gantry charging systems at other bus facilities by 2028.

San Diego MTS has been piloting 13 zero-emission buses on its network and plans to fully transition to a zero-emission fleet by 2040. The overhead charging system will be ready for use on MTS’ new Iris Rapid route, which will serve the corridor between Imperial Beach and Otay Mesa. The new rapid transit route will operate using 12 60-foot articulated buses that are scheduled for delivery in October 2022.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.