Battery-powered electric bus makes rounds in downtown Rochester - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Battery-powered electric bus makes rounds in downtown Rochester

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- If you were downtown Thursday morning and saw a different-looking public transit bus, you weren't mistaken. A battery-powered electric bus made its rounds, and may be part of the future of public transit in Rochester.

According to founder Dale Hill, Proterra's battery electric bus is the only battery electric bus in the world that will operate 24 hours a day, without having to go back to the bus barn to be refueled.

It's no secret that every vehicle must be refueled to keep working. However, not all vehicles require the same type of fuel. When the battery electric bus needs a burst of energy, it looks no further than its route's set spot.

"Wherever your layover is, attached to a pole is a little robotic arm that comes down and makes contact with the roof. And that's all done seamlessly and automatically and while the passengers are getting on and off the bus, the bus is being recharged," said Hill.

The 40-foot long, 40-passenger bus does everything a normal public transit bus does, only more environmentally friendly.

"Our goal as we set out to design the bus, was to make sure the battery electric bus would do everything a diesel bus would do, as far as speed, passenger capacity, grade ability. Do everything a diesel bus will do except make fumes and noise," said Hill.

And, it is more cost-effective. "In 12 years, you'll spend half-million dollars for diesel fuel bus for one bus. In 12 years, you'll spend $100,000 for electricity"

"We are looking at alternative energy. Right now, our fleets dependent on diesel. We've spent the last year looking and we're still very interested in that for the savings but the electric, even more so. We just started really to research on this, but the savings in fuel are pretty substantial," said Tony Knauer, the Parking and Transit Manager for the City of Rochester.

Although the battery electric bus isn't here to stay right now, the possibility isn't ruled out for the future.

We'll sort through that probably in the next few months. It's about a 12 month lead time from when we have to line up the financing, but I think we're very interested,” said Knauer.

Knauer also said there are four other battery electric bus manufacturers the city wants to look at, to keep options open.

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