Region Forward Blog

Metro Steers Toward Sustainable Transportation

Sep 2, 2015


Metro, in partnership with Complete Coach Works (CCW), and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), hosted a demonstration on August 24 of a Zero Emission Propulsion System (ZEPS) all-electric bus at WMATA’s Carmen Turner Facility in Landover, Maryland. Providing hands-on opportunities to explore cutting-edge clean transportation alternatives helps to foster advancement toward Metro’s goals to increase efficiency and lower costs as well as broader regional goals to enhance sustainable economic development.

Local, state, and federal representatives from across the region attended the demonstration to enhance their understanding of this progressive technology. Representatives from Prince George’s County, Frederick County, Montgomery County, Fairfax County, the Maryland Department of Environment, and the Federal Transit Administration joined the tour along with stakeholders such as the Baltimore-Washington Electric Vehicle Initiative and Bethesda Urban Partnership.

The ZEPS bus has been reconditioned and repowered from a standard diesel bus to an all-electric, exhaust-free bus. The utilization of lightweight technology contributes to its ability to circulate an average of 150 miles per charge. The fuel economy is estimated at more than 20 miles per gallon equivalent, which is four times more efficient than conventional diesel buses.

The all-electric bus uses an advanced lithium ion battery system and liquid-cooled drive system. Since there is no diesel engine, transmission, radiator, or belt-driven accessories, fewer preventive maintenance and breakdown service is required and maintenance costs are estimated at one-fifth of diesel powered buses. In addition, repurposing retired buses conserves more than 10,000 pounds of ferrous metals, like steel.

Frederick County will be the first transit property on the east coast with a refurbished electric bus. Three buses, scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2015, are funded 90 percent by federal and state grants with a 10 percent county match. Nancy Norris, Director of TransIT Services of Frederick County, spoke to the tremendous potential for savings that could be realized over the lifetime of these electric buses.

Calculations based on our particular fleet indicate a combined fuel and maintenance cost savings of more than $400,000 over the life of each bus, said Norris. In addition to the costs savings, converting our fleet to all-electric will help the County achieve its goals to conserve energy, reduce waste, and improve local air quality through use of transportation alternatives.11942337_10153132584726188_2340360695288602172_o

Across the country, Indianapolis’ Public Transportation Corporation (Indygo) has purchased 21 rehabilitated Zero Emission Propulsion Systems, Monterey Salinas Transit was the first agency in California to use wireless power transfer technology through an all-electric trolley, and the City Utilities of Springfield (CU) is to be supplied with seven rehabilitated buses.

In June, COG hosted the Regional Electric Vehicle Readiness Workshop in partnership with the Maryland Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, bringing together experts from the private and public sectors and local leaders for a conversation about the purchase and integration of EV fleets. Participants also had an opportunity to test several electric vehicle models. The support and participation from fleet management and transit authorities at these events has laid the groundwork for further adoption of clean transportation technologies in the region. The potential of providing passengers with an economically viable form of green transportation uphold Region Forward’s goals of enhancing sustainable economic development, providing energy efficiency public transportation, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.

View photos from the demonstration.

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