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Rochester’s first electric buses are expected to begin routes in May

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Rochester Public Transit (RPT) has two new buses that are battery operated.

Rochester Electric Bus
Rochester Electric Bus(KTTC)

In April, the buses will be taken out on the roads for test runs. However, by May the buses will begin full-scale services.

The buses are 60 feet and can hold 120 passengers, including passengers that have to stand.

The standard diesel buses are 40 feet and can only hold 80 passengers in total.

“Before COVID we were having capacity issues at some of our busiest routes that go to park and rides, where buses would be really full, and we’d need to send a second bus to pick up people who would have otherwise been left behind. This bus, since it can hold more people it allows fewer buses to run the same route,” said Bradley Bobbitt, Rochester Public Transit Operations Specialist.

RPT said since the buses are battery-operated, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a third compared to diesel buses.

“Another benefit for us is that electric vehicles actually have lower maintenance needs than diesel. You have fewer moving parts. You have less fluid,” Bobbitt said. “Diesel buses can be really loud. When they’re idling or driving by, this bus will be very quiet.”

The electric buses also have a built-in air purification system, USB ports to charge electronic devices, as well as a system that can save drive time by connecting to the traffic lights.

Those aren’t the only features people can find on electric buses.

“Wheelchair securement system that is actually self-service, so folks who come on with mobility assistance devices can secure themselves in with that one, which will allow the driver to keep operating the bus. Right now, with our current system, the driver has to get out of their seat and help the person get secured. If we have more than one person in a wheelchair, they’ll still have to get up and help the second person, but it will help us save time,” Bobbitt said.

He said the buses cost about $1.4 million dollars each. Federal funds paid 80 percent of the cost.

The buses also can go 130 miles on a single charge, which is long enough for a full day.

The city is hoping to get more electric buses in the future.

RPT has planned to get electric buses since 2018.

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