WMATA breaks ground on Bladensburg Garage; awards electric bus contracts

March 9, 2023
The garage is the authority’s second facility that will support its zero-emission fleet and will have the capacity to host 300 buses.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration (WMATA) held a groundbreaking ceremony on March 8 to mark the start of construction Bladensburg Garage, its second facility to house its planned zero-emission fleet. The facility sits on more than 17 acres of land and will have the capacity for 300 buses, half of which will be zero emission.

The Bladensburg Garage, which was originally built in 1962, will be demolished and reconstructed in three phases during the next five years to allow operations to continue throughout the construction phase. The new garage is LEED® Platinum designed and will see improvements that will support additional buses, continue to provide maintenance, parts storage and employee amenities, improve parking to include 200 40-foot bus spaces, 100 articulated bus spaces and 560 employee spaces and allocate space for electric bus infrastructure.

“Our investment in new, modern electric-ready bus garages is the future of public transportation,” said WMATA General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke. “Zero-emission buses are a game changer for Metro and for the surrounding communities by providing clean transportation that will help improve the region’s air quality and make the environment healthier for everyone.”

The WMATA Board approved a plan in 2021 that set the authority on a course to have a 100 percent zero-emission bus fleet by 2045, with a full transition to electric or other zero-emission bus purchases by 2030. To support this zero-emission fleet, WMATA began construction on the Northern Bus Garage in January 2023. The Northern Bus Garage will transform a 117-year-old former streetcar storage building into a modern facility that will host an all zero-emission bus fleet.

Zero-emission bus contracts awarded

In addition to starting construction on the Bladensburg Garage, WMATA awarded two contracts to procure a total of 10 battery-electric buses. New Flyer of America and Nova Bus were each awarded contracts for five buses each that will be delivered in 2024.

The electric bus orders are part of the authority’s Electric Bus Test and Evaluation that will test the 10 buses, with two 60-foot battery-electric buses purchased through a separate Federal Transit Administration Low- or No-Emission Program Grant through real-world operating conditions to help inform the authority’s future zero-emission bus purchases and infrastructure needs.

An electric Nova Bus was on site for the groundbreaking to begin work with WMATA on the design process to incorporate elements that address customer, operator and mechanic needs. WMATA will be evaluating an option to purchase up to 100 more electric buses under the contracts awarded to New Flyer and Nova Bus.

WMATA explains the construction of the facility also supports its commitment to sustainability and equity in transportation. The Bladensburg Garage serves communities in the District of Columbia and Maryland, including several in Opportunity Zones created to spur investment in economically distressed areas. The project will create new construction jobs, with a goal of more than 18 percent of the contract going to small, minority and disadvantaged businesses.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction 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.