SFMTA rolls out battery electric bus pilot program

Feb. 15, 2022
Currently, five electric buses have arrived, and the remaining seven will be delivered by the end of 2022.  

The first of three battery electric buses have entered revenue service on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) network, bringing the agency closer to achieving its greater goal of an all-electric fleet and a carbon-neutral San Francisco by 2040, as explained in the SFMTA’s Sustainability and Climate Action Program. 

As part of the program, Muni had initially ordered nine battery-electric buses, three each from three manufacturers—New Flyer, BYD USA and Proterra—for an 18-month tryout. As the program evolved, a fourth manufacturer, Nova Bus, was added to the program to bring in three additional electric buses for the extensive testing. Currently, five electric buses have arrived, and the remaining seven will be delivered by the end of 2022.   

“San Francisco will continue to find ways to make our transportation fleet greener and cleaner, while still providing reliable service across our entire city,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “Electrifying our transit sector is an essential part of our Climate Action Plan goals of getting to net-zero emissions by 2040.” 

Prior to the launch, the e-buses were tested on some of SFMTA’s most challenging routes. The new coaches will be serving the 9 San Bruno, 22 Fillmore, 29 Sunset and 44 O'Shaughnessy lines. The three battery-electric buses, one each from New Flyer, BYD USA and Proterra, will be running on the same line each day to gather data on how they respond to the challenges of revenue service across the unique geographic terrain.  

“Muni already has the greenest fleet in North America, especially our trolleybuses that pull power directly from Hetch Hetchy into their powerful, hill-climbing engines,” said Jeff Tumlin, SFMTA director of transportation. “This pilot will test to see how battery-electric buses perform relative to our hybrids, and how we should invest to meet SFMTA goals under the city’s Climate Action Plan.” 

Leading up to this launch, the SFMTA has been working with PG&E to complete and update the charging infrastructure, called ChargePoint Express Plus, needed to power the new battery electric fleet. Each bus takes about four hours to charge and the electrical support equipment is enclosed within the Electrical Equipment Center directly adjacent to the charging stations.   

To date, SFMTA has nine of 12 charging stations completed, which are powered by Hetch Hetchy Power. The three remaining chargers are currently in fabrication and anticipated to be delivered in spring 2022. Construction will continue once the three chargers arrive. The overall completion of the installation project is expected for summer 2022.      

As of 2019, 47 percent of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the transportation sector which is heavily reliant on carbon intensive fossil fuels. SFMTA says its reliance on harmful fossil fuels is changing the earth’s climate and contributes to extreme weather events, increased forest fire risk and sea level rise.   

However, the SFMTA says it continues to be a leader in providing safe and sustainable transportation options. The SFMTA’s energy-efficient Muni fleet contributes less than two percent of the sector’s emissions.