New Metro Transit Rapid Bus Line to Include Battery-Electric Buses

Oct. 18, 2017
Metro Transit's next rapid bus line will bring battery-electric buses to the Twin Cities for the first time.

Metro Transit's next rapid bus line will bring battery-electric buses to the Twin Cities for the first time.

At least six of the 60-foot articulated buses that will be used on the C Line will be fully-propelled by rechargeable batteries, eliminating tailpipe emissions. The Xcelsior battery-electric, sixty-foot, heavy-duty transit buses will be manufactured and delivered by St. Cloud, Minnesota-based New Flyer of America. 

The buses will be among the first 60-foot battery-electric articulated buses put into service in the United States.

“Bringing battery-electric buses to the Twin Cities will reduce fossil fuel emissions that hurt our health and environment, and support good paying manufacturing jobs at New Flyer’s St. Cloud facility,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I thank our partners at the Federal Transit Administration for this grant funding, and encourage Minnesotans to catch a ride on the C Line starting in 2019.”

Up to fourteen buses will be dedicated to C Line service, which will largely replace Route 19 service between downtown Minneapolis and the Brooklyn Center Transit Center. The C Line is scheduled to open in 2019. 

In addition to the new buses, the C Line will bring enhanced stations and faster, more frequent service. Like the A Line, travel times will improve as C Line buses make fewer stops, customers pay their fares before boarding and transit priority is given at select intersections. 

“Once again, Metro Transit is demonstrating the commitment to excellence that has made it one of the most highly rated transit systems in the nation," said Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff. "This technology not only reduces pollution, it makes our transit system less vulnerable to drastic increases in fuel prices. Cost effectiveness, sustainability and innovation are key objectives for Metro Transit and all of the divisions of the Metropolitan Council.”

The ability to include battery-electric buses in the C Line project comes in part from a recently-announced $1.75 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The grant will pay for a portion of the buses and charging technology to be installed at Metro Transit’s Heywood Garage and the Brooklyn Center Transit Center. With a full charge, the buses can operate for up to 150 miles.

Federal funding will also go toward training Metro Transit Mechanic Technicians on the new technology. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Metro Transit in building the presence of battery-electric buses in the Twin Cities,” said Wayne Joseph, president of New Flyer of America. “Our zero-emission, battery-electric Xcelsior buses not only lend positive environmental impact for communities, but also feature American innovation and manufacturing in motion. We’re proud to be part of the solution in advancing sustainable transit.” 

Metro Transit’s $1.75 million grant was among $55 million in funding for low- or no-emission vehicle projects announced by the FTA. Metro Transit’s award was among the largest of the 51 projects that received grant funding. 

Metro Transit was among the first U.S. transit agencies to begin using hybrid buses 15 years ago. The fleet now includes 134 hybrid buses, which are partially powered by rechargeable batteries and have better fuel economy than standard diesel buses.

The addition of hybrids and other vehicle improvements has led fleetwide fuel economy to improve from under 4 miles per gallon in 2008 to nearly 5 miles per gallon. 

Improvements in fuel economy helped Metro Transit become one of the few U.S. transit agencies to achieve Gold Level certification through the American Public Transportation Association’s Sustainability Commitment program.

New Flyer is the largest transit bus manufacturer and parts distributor in North America with fabrication, manufacturing, distribution and service centers across America. It proudly employs more American workers than any other transit bus manufacturer in North America.